Wednesday, October 31, 2007

scary

Happy Halloween!




This is what I'm feeling like after a week and a half of dust and grime and wallpaper paste and cranky menfolk. Still no time to blog.

We're keeping a low Halloween profile this evening, as usual. Last week a photo of some very fetching and ghostly outdoor decorations (not ours) appeared in the local section of our daily newspaper. The article that went along with it stated that some residents of this town (who, "for the sake of the neighbourhood", did not wish to see their names in print! I love it!) were getting their undies in a twist about this terrible, awful "heathen custom", feeling that it was a threat to German religious culture. Or something. Whatever. No candy for them, then.

Whatever you're doing tonight, have a good one.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

blogging? what's that?

The Herbstferien - two weeks school holiday - are upon us. Mr. M has also taken time off. "Ahhh!", you're thinking, "lots of rest and relaxation coming up for that bunch!" No dice. We have a To Do list as long as your arm and really want to get at least some of it done during this lifetime.

I had thought I'd at least get to sleep in but His Royal German Highness has decreed 8 a.m. a very good time to get up and at 'em and make something of the day. Is the man insane? I can't even function until 10, but tell him that.

Starting tomorrow (today we all just hung around in our pyjamas and watched the rain come down) you'll find us:

  • finally getting one step ahead of Mt. Wash Me, Mt. Fold Me and Mt. Put Me Away Where I Belong

  • completely renovating Boy14's room ( he's not 2 yrs old any more - the teddy bear wallpaper border has go to go!)

  • redecorating master bedroom

  • excavating Mausi's side of bedroom closet to reclaim missing artifacts

  • planning upstairs bathroom renos for some day when we are rich

  • sanding, painting and re-carpeting stairs

  • gathering up mountains of old toys and kitchen stuff to be donated to a good cause

  • smokin' some trout with the neighbours before they go on holiday

  • entertaining a rather exhausting 5-yr-old friend

  • doing something with what's left of the garden now that the temperature has dropped to 7°C

Ooh, don't you wish you were me? It won't be all work, however. We are actually planning to do something fun in there somewhere. But due to this upcoming flurry of activity, 24/7 family togetherness and the occasional "Well, I guess you love the internet more than you love meeeee!", I'm afraid that blogging will have to be limited. I'm sure you understand.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

eat 'em and weep

When the first line of the recipe you're about to make reads "Take one kilogram of onions, peeled and thinly sliced." you know there's going to be trouble. Well OK, I know there's going to be trouble. You see, onions and I have a somewhat rocky relationship. I adore them, but, alas, they seldom return my affections and seem to delight in taunting me from beginning to end.

One kilogram - that's about 2.2 pounds, or approximately 12 small onions! And I prefer to slice by hand rather than letting my elderly food processor (and I'm not talking about Mr. M here) do the job. Short of wearing ski goggles while I work, I still haven't come up with a way to prevent those little devils from doing a number on my oh-so-senstive eyes. And believe me, I've tried everything. By the time I've finished slicing and dicing I look like hell. My eyes are red, puffy and streaming and my make-up is ruined. I tell you, if you've got something to cry about, do it while you're slicing onions and no one will be the wiser.

So why don't I just give up on the relationship? Well, if you're a "from scratch" kind of cook and enjoy making your own German food, wrestling with a big pile of onions is practically manditory at this time of year. That's right, it's Zwiebelkuchen season. A Zwiebelkuchen is a type of onion tart made from sour cream or creme fraiche, eggs, diced bacon, caraway seeds and those naughty, naughty onions all spread out on a base of yeast dough. Here is a recipe similar to the one I used, but be sure to use only half the amount of milk called for in the yeast dough. You can improvise a bit with the ingredients until you get what you like. Check out Charlotte's Zwiebelkuchen post. She's been indulging since September.

My tart turned out like this




(I left off the caraway seeds because some of us don't care for them.)

I'll mention here that not only do onions make me cry bitter tears, they also do a number on my digestive system. I'm not a picky eater. I'll try almost anything once, but onions just don't agree with me in many ways. Suffice it to say that although Zwiebelkuchen tastes very, very good, a couple of pieces a year do me just fine.

Others will be able to dig in and eat lots and lots and any hardy Germans will tell you the real reason to make or buy Zwiebelkuchen is to be able to drink copious amounts of Zwiebelkuchen's best friend - Federweisser.

Also known as Junger Wein or Neuer Wein (young or new wine) in some parts of Germany, Federweisser is a fermenting grape must that increases in alcohol content over several days, going from very sweet and bubbly to somewhat sour, finally reaching about 9.5%. This wine doesn't have a long shelf life and should be consumed soon after purchase. Since the fermentation gases would make sealed bottles explode, the bottle caps are only put on loosely, so store this stuff upright unless you want a sticky mess. More here at Wikipedia

We bought three kinds of Federwiesser to try this year - rosé, red and white.



The label on the bottle of white tells us that the fermentation process takes 3 to 8 days and can be slowed down by refrigeration. It also reminds us to jolly well store the bottle upright!



I love the label on the red Roter Sauser. Looks like the little cherub may have been imbibing himself.



So if Zwiebelkuchen alone makes my innards go crazy, what does Zwiebelkuchen and Federweisser together do? Seriously, you don't want to know. Not being a fan, I really only had a tiniest of sips. Can you say instant hangover? What a wimp.

As much as I enjoy celebrating the seasons with traditional food, I guess it's back to dry toast and chamomile tea for the next few days.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

9 months from now...

Well, that got your attention, didn't it? Don't worry, it's not what you think. I'm talking about an entirely different blessed event.

Take a look. Frequent flyers will be able to decipher the code. (And as always, click on the image to enlarge)



On Thursday July 10, 2008, the first day of school holidays in Lower Saxony Familie Mausi will be taking off into the wild blue yonder for five and half glorious weeks. It's been a while. July 2006 was the last time we touched down on Canadian soil and 9 months seems a loooong way away. But we all know how time flies and I'm pretty certain I still won't be packed on time even with this much notice.

The fact that we're now having to book so far in advance to get the flights we want is fairly alarming. Is it going to get worse? Maybe we should have booked our 2010 trip along with this one just to be on the safe side. You never know.

And we won't even mention the price. No, wait, we WILL mention the price, because it's just totally outrageous. I won't tell you exactly how much we paid, let's just say I could have had a tummy tuck for about the same amount.

When the time came to pick up our tickets from the travel agent they gave us three payment options:

1) firstborn

2) an arm and a leg

3) live savings

We're really quite fond of our firsborn and were planning on taking him with us and arms and legs can come in kind of handy when you're on holiday, so we opted for number 3. That means pinching pennies for the rest of the year. Good thing that I am the queen of making something out of nothing.

But it's worth it! It really is!

I found a couple of British Columbia videos at YouTube to prove it. (Note: If you cannot see or play the video, try refreshing the page or clicking twice on the play button. Clicking on the middle of the video itself will take you to YouTube where you may be able to view it.)


This one, as cheesy as it is at times, does show some of the spectacular scenery and leisure activities available to lucky residents and visitors.





This one is an amateur video filmed by a kayaking enthusiast and captures what I miss the most - just hangin' out by the ocean and watching the waves roll in. I also adore the song he/she chose to go with it. Kind of a love song for my home province.





So there you have it - one for the tourists and another for the purists. Heh.

Can you blame me for actually looking forward to the jet lag?

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

a place to rest our weary heads

Just a little reminder that The 3rd Whiney Expat Blogger in Germany Meet-Up is less than five weeks away. Click on the link for details and let us know if you'll be attending.

Even the most energetic expats among us are going to need a little shut-eye after a hard day of socializing and if you haven't arranged your accomodation yet, our fearless leader J and Eurotrippen, our Dresden tour guide, have scouted out a couple of suitable (= fairly easy on the budget) places to stay in Dresden. E mail either of them (addresses on their respective blogs) to get the scoop.

For those of you still sitting on the fence, it's not too late to make the right decision. That would be showing up in Dresden and having a great time instead of sitting at home where no one can hear you whine.

Go on, you know you want to.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Achtung!

Just a quick FYI: The infamous Deutsche Bahn will most likely be on strike on Thursday and Friday of this week and again on Monday. Make other plans if you need to be anywhere on time.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, eh?

No, I'm haven't been drinking. Those of you in the know will remember that the crazy Canucks actually celebrate Thanksgiving in October. We had our dinner yesterday.

I was just totally not into rustling up a whole turkey this year. Neither did I feel like slaughtering one of our pumpkins for pumpkin pie, so we ended up enjoying a very simple meal: roast turkey breast with a rosemary, garlic and honey-mustard glaze accompanied by a bunch of vegetables. Some of us are trying to lose a few pounds so leaving out the gravy and stuffing seemed like a good idea.





For dessert I tried out a new recipe. These cranberry custard tarts really hit the spot.



As we were sitting around the dinner table I thought to myself how grateful I was to have my little family there with me.

I'm so thankful for my two beautiful, healthy children and for a loving husband who puts up with my moods and brings me flowers when I least deserve them.




This week I'm going to try to concentrate on appreciating what I DO have, rather than what I don't have. Won't you join me?

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

hope you like Germans too

Yep, I'm still alive. Just completely knackered, as the lovely Brits would say. The Malaise hangs on with a vengeance. Blood has been drawn by the Dragon Lady down at the doc's office with results due today. My head is spinning thinking about My Stuff and Other People's Stuff. I can't seem to find my brain's OFF switch these days so it looks like the little black cloud is going to be here for a while. Please forgive the sparse blogging.

Yesterday was a holiday, Tag der deutschen Einheit or German Unity Day in commemoration of the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. The first Germany Unity Day took place on October 3, 1990 only a few months after I moved here.

Mr. M was still Boyfriend M when I visited him in Germany in late 1988. During my five month stay we spent a few days exploring Berlin and I remember looking over that bizarre wall and thinking to myself, "This can't go on for much longer." Seems like a lot of other people were thinking the same thing. When we visited Berlin again in New Millenium it was completely changed for the better. What a difference a wall makes.

It's still not exactly a love-in between (former)east and west, but they're working on it and in time things should improve.

The German government has also been working on its immigration policies, and as of this year, citizens of EU countries (and Switzerland) may retain their old citizenship if they decide to become German citizens as well. Non-EU members like me don't have that option and giving up my Canadian citizenship is not something I'd do willingly so Canadian I stay.

If you're thinking about taking the plunge and "going German", take a look at this video by the German comedy duo Mundstuhl. They wrote this song last summer for the World Cup and it kind of gives you a tongue-in-cheek idea of what you'd be in for.





We're Germans
Football play we better than you
We're Germans (Germans)
Hope you like Germans too


Welcome here in Germany
from the Alpen to the sea
In unsren Kneipen you can smoke

[You can smoke in our pubs]
Lederhos , Oktoberfest
unsre Biere are the best

[Our beer is the best]
Gebraut nach German Reinheitsgebououout
[Brewed according to the German purity law]

We're Germans (Germans)
Football play we better than you
We're Germans (Germans)
Hope you like Germans too


And we built the better cars
German Wertarbeit nach Maß

[Quality workmanship made to measure]
For example BMW
Des heißt Double U , eschd!

[That's double-you!]

Have the Autobahn gebaut
[Built the autobahn]
And we love the Sauerkraut
Made in West Germany


We're Germans (Germans, Germans, Germans)
Football play we better than you
We're Germans (Germans, Germans, Germans)
Hope you like Germans too


Wir haben die Zugspitze
[We have the Zugspitze]
Do you know the Loreley?
Fahr mal auf dem schönen Rhein

[Take a trip on the beautiful Rhine]
And have a look at Norderney

We're Germans (what you what you what you want)
We're Germans (what you what you what you want)
Football play we better than you
We're Germans
Germans , Germans , Germans
Hope you like Germans too


Germany is total cool
in Köln every Boy is schwul

[In Cologne every boy is gay]
Every German has a Bauch
[Every German has a belly]
My Oma is German too
[My grandma is German too]
Our cows make also "muh"
Hämorriden have we auauauch
[We've also got hemorrhoids]

We're Germans (Germans)
Football play we better than you
We're Germans (Germans)
Hope you like Germans too


We're Germans (Germans, Germans, Germans)
Football play we better than you
German in the name of the Lord (Germans, Germans, Germans)
Hope you like Germans too


We're Germans (Germans)
Football play we better than you
This is the song for all the Germans (Germans)
(Come along) Hope you like Germans too


Do you like the Germans?
(Germans, Germans , Germans)
Do you like them?
Football play we better than you
Do you like the Germans?
(Germans , Germans , Germans)
Hope you like Germans too


Hope you like the Germans...

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