Monday, December 26, 2005

White Christmas?

Christmas morning was bright and sunny (see pix in previous post). Today - the day after Christmas - we had some snow. Of course, it was heaviest just as we wanted to take a walk. That's OK though - it was really nice to be out and about in the white stuff. Don't get that much in Hamburg in general anyway, so we enjoyed it. Totaled about an inch and then melted.

Here are some photos from the hood.

Christmas Day @ Our Flat

Slept in on Christmas Day...well...not really - Nat was up early playing with her iPod. We opened gifts and then made a big turkey dinner.

Just a few pictures for you:

This is the spice mixture we used for the stuffing and on the turkey:

Stuffing bread cubes with chestnuts and apples:

Here he is - a 9 pounder:

It was very special - just the two of us.

Oh, in case you're wondering that's not champagne. It's Lindemans Cuveé René Gueuze.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Frohe Weihnachten - Christmas Eve

Alles Liebe zu Weihnachten!

Most of you know that Christmas in Germany starts on Christmas Eve. We are not very often in Germany for Christmas but we have our own traditions now. First, we celebrate Christmas Eve by going out to dinner to an awesome Indian restaurant called Shalimar, which is said to be one of the best Indian restaurants in Germany. The interior is beautiful and it was suprisingly packed for Christmas Eve. The food was delicious. We left like two little stuffed Turkeys!

On the way back the streets were almost empty. As we came into a sidestreet, we had a not-so-nice experience: An old woman coming towards us suddenly fell. We were the only ones around - just about 25 feet in front of her. We tried to help her up but it turned out that something serious happened to her hip. She just came from her daugher and granddaughter two houses away. While Jim was waiting with her, Nat ran to get them. We called the ambulance and waited until it came. It was terrible. We felt so sorry for this cute, old grandma laying there crying and the whole time saying "but it was such a beautiful evening. Why does it end this way?!"

We hope she is alright and nothing to serious happened to her - so she gets well very soon.

After that it was kind of hard to get into the Christmas spirit again, but as we all know the human brain blends out catastrophes fast.

Niles was the first who got his little treat. Tuna! We couldn't take a better picture of him eating it, because he almost inhaled the plate in 2 seconds:

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Jim got his present some weeks ago: an amp for his bass guitar, which he likes very much, is loud as thunder and is very much needed for his band's gig in January. But as he was nice and not naughty he got more presents from Nat - a handmade calendar. By the expression on his face, Jim really really liked it.

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Then, the big surprise for the eveing: An ipod nano for Nat! WEEEEHHEEEEE! That thing is so small and cute. It's hard to believe it holds 4 GB!

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We decided to open some more presents. Joe and Jen sent us a package which included not only a wonderful selfmade placemate by Jen, but also a self-inking address stamp! You two are so cute - thank you so much!

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Antje gave us a complementary yoga class (90 minute session) and some yogi tea (hey, wait - Nat is Yogi_Beera not Yogi_Te-a). Nat also got a supercool belt from Antje!

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Jim opened a present from Janice, Joe, Jackie and Jason: a book called "Weird Christmas." As you can see there should be a page included with a picture of Jim - this guy is VERY weird!

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We also got an awesome stoneware cooking pan, which we will use today. What a great gift!

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I also got a beautifully self painted box by my sis-in-law and her family filled with all different kind great goodies for crafting! Thank you so much!

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That was the unwrapping on Christmas Eve. After a nice beer (Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van De Keizer) we went happy to bed!

To be continued on Christmas Day. Coming up: more unwrapping and cooking!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Nice or Naughty?

The mail man brought another, huge package late yesterday - from Janice, Joe, Jackie and Jason - thanks so much! What a lot of presents we do have under our tree. We must have been very nice this year ;-)

Love ya!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum

We decided to celebrate this holiday season in our new home, and although we are sad to not see family and friends, we are looking forward to a Christmas without traveling.

What is Christmas without a Christmas tree? We decided to buy our first ever tree (neither of us have ever had a full-size one). It was fun. Last friday we went to a place around the corner to get one. We told the 200 cm (=6'6") tall guy that we don't have a clue what to buy. That was a good starter: he liked us because we admited it. When we told him we have a cat, we got his heart because he owns seven. (That cat-owner connection know....). He did everything to give us the best tree in his stock: a Nordmann Fir. This tree holds forever and the needles are totally soft. It's not a bushy type of tree - you can see the individual branches and the trunk - but it's cool and real "tree-y."

Jim dragged the tree up to the fifth floor while Nat jumped around totally excited.

We unwrapped it, and yep - a perfect, wonderful 220cm (7'2") tall tree:

We got a really cool stand. It's got four claws with a single steel cable looping through them. You put the trunk between them and press a pedal to tighten the cable. After about 3 pumps of the pedal, the claws become embedded in the trunk with equal pressure from all four sides and bingo - you're done. Easy peasy. Pretty much like a Krinner Tree Genie.

Jim put up the lights and Niles was totally excited. He seemed to think this was all staged just for him. He chased the lights on the floor, chewed on the needles, and looked all like a happy cat.

Since we didn't have a lot to put on the tree (hey, it's our first), Nat made some ornaments: stars and balls out of paper:

We had a lot of presents to put under the tree already, some of which Dave and Jess brought over. Joe and Jen also sent us a wonderful package!

So, we have a tree. Ta-daaa:

And Niles? Well, he freaks out every once in a while and runs around like an idiot. We think the Christmas Tree must be taunting him ;-)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Typical attitude of my fellow country men and women

Here are two episodes from the last two weeks that I find extremely typical for Germans.

Jim and I are invited to some friends in the afternoon and we stop at the main train station on a sunday to buy some flowers to bring to the hosts. It is one of those fancy shmancy florists where you wonder if the prices are for the whole store or just for this one little flower in your hand.
So I see those little tiny cute little flowers I have never seen before - and actually I will never buy again as I just learned that they are a protected species - the so called Christmas Rose. In a bundle of 10 they are in a bucket which has a price tag over it, saying: "10 for 2,50 EUR". Ok - as they are so tiny, I pick up two, turn around and see about one meter away another bucket, same flowers, same size, but bigger bundles and the price tag says: "20 for 2,50 EUR". Oh ... well that's easy, though wondering - I put back the two 10-bundle flowers and get one bundle of 20 flowers.
I go into the store I want to pay and voila - there it is: another bucket - with tag: "25 for 2,50 EUR". So I tell the lady at the cashier that I'm wondering about this whole thing and she looks at me as if I'm a little stupid, saying: "Why - what is not understandable about it." Ok - she got me, so I say: "Well, right now I have 20 for 2,50 EUR but I made up my mind, I want five extra - what is the price?" She says "3,00 EUR as I have to charge you five more and they are 10 Cent a piece!" "AHA - so why is a bundle of ten 2,50 EUR but ten singles 1,00 EUR?" She goes out, looks at the buckets comes back in, says that everything is right. She looks at me as if I'm mad as I put down the 20-piece bundle and pick up the 25-piece bundle. I give her 2,50 EUR, bite my tongue and as I leave she gives me the words "Yes, sometimes you need an university degree in math to buy flowers!" on the way out.

Jim and I were invited to a classical concert - The Guarneri-Trio from Prague. Somehow we managed to screw the time up. We were thinking it starts at 8 pm but it did start at 7.30 pm which is when we left the house. So we ran out of the house trying to find a taxi, and got there at 7.40 pm. First piece is already over. So, we had to wait till the next break in the music to get in. After the first half, we finally meet up the people who gave us the tickets to the concert, who are seated right behind us. They tell us that the second the concert started an older couple set down on our seats. That's ok, they are pretty good seats and I can understand - but now we are there. Before the second half began, the man who sat in our seats started bickering "Are those really your seats, can I see the tickets? Where have you been, why are you coming now?" Raised eyebrow and I think "Well you old fart, this is none of you business" and I say "Sorry, that we are late, we couldn't make it on time, but now we are here and would like to sit down on the seats we bought, your seats seem to be still free." His wife sat on their actual seat already waving to her husband to come to her. He repeats himself and when he says: "This is against the rules of the game!" Well Mr. Smarty Pants - the law of game is that you wait until the break. If the people then don't show up then this is your seat. And the law of the game is, that you are not asking people you don't know what they have done or why they are late.