Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010 - You Were Good to Us

2010 is coming to an end and I, for one, cannot believe that it has already been one complete year since we celebrated the beginning of 2010. So much happened this year, most of it really good and some of it, eh, well, not so good. But like all good personal historians and people who chose to remain sane, I find myself concentrating on the positive.
The Steinbach Clan celebrated our first year of happy matrimony as well as many small moments of shared happiness like this one, this one, and this one. The Mr. also finally revealed to the world his dance moves.

2010 brought some pretty significant changes to how I view myself:
2010 did include a few sad moments. I lost a dear friend and faithful writing fan. The Mr. and I also said goodbye to our little Peewee. Happily, I reached 30 and finally broke the curse of crappy even birthdays. Thanks again to everyone who helped celebrate my new decade!

But we sure did travel a heck of a lot this year:
  • Ireland
  • Italy (where we came home with a little bun in the oven)
  • Vancouver and unlimited Sushi (yes, it turns out this was my highlight looking back)
  • Our honeymoon in New Zealand – there are so many blogs, but I chose the one that remained in my heart at the highlight
  • London
  • Scotland


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

O The Weather Outside is Frightful

…but the fire is so delightful.

Christmas 2010, our last Christmas before the clan expands, was one to remember. True to the traditions of the Mr.’s family, it started on Christmas Eve with the traditional family dinner of pork, sauerkraut, and whipped potatoes. Then we gathered in his parent’s darkened living room to light the Christmas tree and exchange gifts.

I got super warm, knitted socks; so did the Mr.

Afterwards we walked through the falling snow to the Mr’s maternal grandmother’s house to sing some songs, tell some stories, and eat some more food. It was also our first chance to share the news that we are pregnant with the Mr’s entire extended family. They were happily surprised and very supportive.

Per tradition, we finally got home around 2am. The next day, Christmas Day, I celebrated American Christmas with a gift from a friend and then read The Gift of the Magi. When the rest of the group finally woke up (all a little groggy from the evening festivities before), we realized it had snowed almost a meter overnight.

We all bundled up and slooooowly drove over through the snow to the Mr’s paternal grandmother’s house for another traditional meal of goose, knödel, red cabbage, and gravy.

We exchanged more gifts, chatted a bit, and then almost fell asleep as a combined group.

In the evening Mr’s maternal family came around to his parents home for some more food, story telling, and laughter.

Sadly, I slipped into sleep before everyone arrived but I woke up very refreshed the next morning for more snow!

Hope you all enjoyed your holiday days with family, friends, and yummy food! Thanks for sharing this year with us!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Some Sorta, Kinda, Maybe New News

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Life in the Steinbach Clan has been a little different recently. For example, the active “lets go do something!” me has been spending a lot of time on the couch. As in, I’ve been on the couch so much that my back, butt, and left hip started to hurt.

And I’m been waving to the Mr. as he closes the door behind him to go out on the weekends – that is if I’m even still awake.

I’ve also been rekindling a special relationship with the porcelain god that got me through some tough moments during college and, particularly, my first few years in Germany. I thought we had grown apart, but thankfully he has been a real friend recently.

And it hasn’t all been normal for the Mr. either. He has been spending a good amount of time hiking up and down three flights of stairs for all sorts of chores like taking the trash out almost every day*, carrying up and down anything even remotely heavy, and random stops at the grocery store.

Particularly the grocery store has been the Mr.’s new haunt. For a guy who isn’t really one for spontaneous shopping trips to pick up a handful of things – grocery fairy or not – he has showed a surprising aptitude for it.

Our savings account has also taken a hit as the Mr. insists that I “get some new clothes” already. I just can’t help it – with all the different, I’m getting a little bit rounder. But we suppose it will all be worth when the Steinbach clan expands in summer 2011.

*hey, it stunk. Really.
G-funk: finally got a picture of our apartment in there for ya

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Buckeye Makes Her First Buckeyes

Being from Ohio, I grew up surrounded by the word buckeye. We use it for all sorts of stuff: our state is “The Buckeye State”; our beloved college football team is “The Ohio State Buckeyes”; our state tree is the proud Buckeye; and we call ourselves “Buckeyes”. According to Wikipedia, there is even a type of chicken and a butterfly from Ohio named after the buckeye. Who knew?

Growing up my favorite use of buckeye was for the extremely rich, belly-ache-causing cookies called – what else? – the Buckeye. Buckeye cookies are made with a no-bake peanut butter, sugar, and butter batter that is frozen before they are dunked half-way into melted chocolate, resulting in the cookie that looks like the buckeye tree’s seeds.

These cookies are fabulous and are usually the first cookies to disappear at any social, any time of year. I have a memory of a summer picnic in which I attempted to ensure my buckeye cookies supply by storing them in the pocket of my pants. Since they aren’t cooked and never get hard, they melted into the cotton of my pants. My mother was less than pleased at the discovery and I recall trying to suck the melted remains out of the cotton.

Needless to say, I haven’t ever seen a buckeye cookie over here in Germany-land. So this year I decided it was high-time for me to give my hand at making the cookies myself. Turns out they are really easy to make and just as rich and belly-ache-causing as I recall. The recipe I used is available online here.
You can take the girl outta Ohio, but you can't take the Ohio outta the girl. And I might just be getting some Ohio into the German.

ps - was anyone out there aware the Ohio state rock song is "Hang on Sloopy"????? Want to know why - check out Wikipedia here. Watch the The Best Damn Band in the Land play the song here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Flower Surprise of 2010

Last week I was sitting on my couch when our door bell rang. After some communication difficulties I buzzed the person into our building and walked slowly into the person’s direction. I assumed I was going to accept a neighbor’s package, instead it was a flower delivery for me! The delivery was hidden in plastic, so I could only read the card. Two of my colleagues sent me surprise flowers!

And not just any flower delivery – they sent me these beautiful flowers.

I work in the corporate world and while it may not be the cutthroat environment of the American, hire-and-fire corporate world, it also isn’t a warm and fuzzy kinda place. Something about that framework makes me even more thankful and touched that my colleagues thought and, more importantly, acted to surprise me with a moment of joy.

Thanks you two! They are still beautiful.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Patchworking Turns into Quilting

More than a few months later, I’ve finally picked up my patchwork project again to cross the magical line between patchworking and quilting. Patchworking is sewing together various patches to create a pattern, however simple or complex. Quilting is the stitching that - again, however simple or complex - holds the patchwork pattern, the lining, and the backside together.

And now I really understand why quilts are so darn expensive. I estimate I’ve already put 60 hours into the project picking out the (very simple) design; choosing the fabric; cutting the squares; completing the patchworking; chosing and sewing the two frames; and preparing to quilt. For the (again, very simple) quilting, I think I’ve already put in about 10 hours and I think I’ve got another 10 or so to go.

The before picture is available on the blog entry “Patchwork Project #1”. Here is a picture from before I moved towards the quilting. Although I've put in a lot of work, you can't really see the difference in the pictures, just with your eyes and your hands. I'll put up some more when I wrap up the project.

Even though this has been far more time consuming than I ever expected, I’m already dreaming of my next two projects!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Getting Ready for Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner - can you believe it? We've got our decorations and our tree. This year's tree is even better than last year's.

Last weekend we were invited to a friend’s annual Christmas party. The food and drinks were super yummy and we got our groove on towards the end of the night


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fondue Surprise

I recently stumbled upon another undiscovered delight: I was introduced to meat fondue. I’ve enjoyed cheese and chocolate fondue before - okay, I really enjoyed the chocolate, not so much the cheese – who likes melted cheese? – but I had no idea that there was meat fondue.

Essentially two pots of oil are heated to boiling over little gas heaters in the center of the table. Then the people sharing the meal choose a square or two of raw turkey, pork, beef, or chicken, push them onto a little metal stick, place them into the oil, and boil them until done. The boiled meat is accompanied by potatoes, salad, mushrooms, and various sauces.

In short, meat fondue = yummy.

Beyond the flavor of the meal, the real joy of cheese, meat, or chocolate fondue is how long it lasts and, especially, how much conversation takes place around the table. It’s the real family meal. By the time I took this picture, we'd spent two hours chatting together.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Infestation Continues

In September 2009 our apartment experienced a sudden and intense World of Warcraft dork infestation. I undertook some pretty drastic measures at the time but, like some former presidents were all know, I celebrated a little too early and on December 7, 2010 the infestation returned.

This time it started at midnight and lasted until almost five in the morning to 'commemorate' the unveiling of and the dive into the “Cataclysm” add-on. Furniture was rearranged, naps were taken, beer was enjoyed, and hearts were racing in joy – thankfully I slept right through it.

Oh, but aren’t they adorable?

And I do have to admit that the add-on looked pretty darn cool. You can see one of the thousands – the infestation is a global issue and counts in the millions – of videos here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Home Improvement Part II

Last week the Mr. and I finally bowed to extreme, continuous, and universal peer pressure. After 1149 days of living in the apartment we now own we took the leap and hung up a living room ceiling lamp.

We really should have tallied the number of people who asked us when we were "going to hang up a lamp already". The offending before picture:

The during picture (are there other countries where hanging up a lamp is considered a normal skill?):

Since we were into home improvement again, we decided to jump with both feet in and conquer the book chaos which was significantly worse than the already conquered towel chaos of Summer 2010. I read a lot, and I have a lot of books. Without book shelves, that meant we had a significant amount of books in piles all around the apartment. So, the Mr. spared himself more bruised toes and surprised me with book shelves for my 30th birthday!

It has been a treasure hunt to locate all the piles of books. I've discovered that I have quite the skill in creatively misusing space for books. By the time we locate them all - and who knows when that will be - those shelves will be bursting full. Do you think the Mr. will start talking about getting rid of some of them then?


Back to happier thoughts: surprisingly for anything IKEA, not one single argument took place during the ‘building’ of these shelves, there were no missing pieces, and it took less than half our lives to put together.

Thanks again to the Mr for the amazing birthday gift.


Ps. Torsten – this one’s for you. Special requests will always be listened to and sometimes acted upon.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cookies Galore

A friend and I got together to make cookies this evening. It was a rather American-influenced evening: chocolate chip and thumb print cookies. Yummy, yummy, yummy!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Markets

The best part of the Christmas season in Germany is the myriad of Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte)  that pop up all of the country. In the larger cities, like Heidelberg, the Christmas market is set up at the end of November, open each day until around 9 or 10 pm, and shut down a day before Christmas. In larger towns the stands tend to be operated by corporations for profit. In the smaller towns and villages, the Christmas market takes place on one or two weekends. The stands tend to be run by local organizations who take the chance to earn money for their local activities.

Both types of Christmas markets offer waffles (my absolute favorite!); the traditional Christmas drink of hot, spiced red wine called Glühwein; and piping hot, fresh sausages. Depending on the size of the market, the entertainment is either semi-professional, home grown, or non-existent.

While S&D were in town for Thanksgiving, we spent a little bit of time enjoying the Heidelberg Christmas market. The entire city is decorated, especially the main pedestrian street.

And, of course, we introduced D to the wonder that is Glühwein.

We also introduced him to Döner, but that’s worth an entire blog entry itself.

Last weekend our little village hosted our Christmas market. There were a number of little stands, mostly run by local organizations. Entertainment was taken care of by a choir of accordion players passionately playing out Christmas songs.

It seemed like the entire village was out to enjoy the music, food and Glühwein. The Mr. and I included.


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