Let’s hear it for short work weeks!

29 May

We love us some short work weeks. Especially the ones where Monday was a holiday and Friday is a vacation day! Heehee. We actually didn’t realize when we planned this weekend’s trip that Monday was Memorial Day, but hey, we’ll take it!

Not a whole lot spectacular going on this week for us, which has actually been a nice thing. For the last three days, we’ve been back on routine, by the book for the most part. We all need a little of that every now and then, right? The rain has held off, so we’ve been able to ride our bike a good bit, to spend some afternoons at the playground, to hit up the Wednesday Farmers Market (always one of our favorite days), an awesome trip up the Nerotal Hill (it got a post all by itself yesterday, in case you missed it)…

Needless to say, I figured I’d use this post as a bit of a hodge podge of miscellaneous goodies. A little of this, a little of that. Some Neve pictures, some interesting factoids and tidbits that we’ve discovered along the way…Here we go.

For Memorial Day on Monday, we did manage to get out of our jammies long enough for dinner at our favorite biergarten. This was mainly because we didn’t have any real food in the house, but still…It was raining, so we had to sit inside, but the food was on point like usual. These are probably our favorite dishes in Germany, actually. Neve’s favorite has definitely been Schnitzel and French Fries- she prefers it to just about everything else and just about every restaurant offers some version of it in a kinder (child) or half portion. And soft pretzels- we all adore the pretzels here. Flammkuchen is like a lighter version of pizza made on thin flatbread, but with quark (similar to thick sour cream) instead of tomato sauce. We always opt for the ‘traditional’ with speck (similar to bacon) and onions. Most restaurants that offer flammkuchen have about three options- the traditional, a meaty cheesy one and a veggie one. And you’ll recognize the other dish as our old standby that we always order if we find it on a menu, Weisswurst with Pretzels. It’s a Bavarian dish (Southern Germany), so it’s a treat to find it in restaurants up where we’re living. In fact, the Bavarian restaurants are usually our favorites- they’re the same principle as a ‘southern cooking’ restaurant at home, if that makes sense? Like how we have Applebee’s, Outback, etc. Then specialty still-American-style restaurants like Cracker Barrel…

When you're just a trio in a foreign country on Memorial Day...

When you’re just a trio in a foreign country on Memorial Day…

We’ve also cooked our own Weisswurst dinner a time or two since we got here and they always turn out delicious. We don’t have the fancy pot (we poach them on the stove in a saucepan) and we can’t finish cooking the sausages without popping the casings to save our lives (you have to peel the casings off before you can eat them anyway, so it just gets it started for us 😉 ), but still delish 🙂

Homemade Weisswurst and Pretzel with German Fried Potatoes

Homemade Weisswurst and Pretzel with German Fried Potatoes

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And while I’m talking about Memorial Day, I want to point out an AWESOME German/European contraption. Why the holiday reminded me of it is because we all got to sleep in (it’s only happened a handful of time since we got here since we’re always on the go!) and it was made possible by this awesome invention: The Roll Shudder. Most residences- all buildings dating before WWII- have these shudders on the outside of their windows, especially bedroom windows. Instead of shades or curtains, you just lower these metal slats (the cord is inside) when you want total darkness. Genius, right?! When they’re raised, you can’t see them at all, to the point where you can’t always tell which windows have them and which don’t, so it’s a win-win. We actually leave ours about 3/4 down most nights so we get some of the natural light helping us wake up in the mornings. (We tried it pitch dark, which we love for sleeping, but it makes alarm clock time a beast. Unless it’s a sleep in day. Like Memorial Day this past Monday. 🙂 ) We’ve also started leaving them partially up because there’s no air conditioner here (nowhere- not in homes, in restaurants, in stores…), so we leave the windows cracked behind them and need the ventilation. They have been a Godsend for Neve’s naps, to the point where I may or may not have been researching their availability in the States…Here is a pretty crappy picture of the one outside of our bedroom, over the floor to ceiling window. We just raise it each morning and it fits neatly behind that silver piece at the top! So awesome.

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I did a quick bit of research- because I’m a dweeb and that’s what I do- and found that roll shudders were invented about 80 years ago as one of the first energy efficiency efforts. As WWII progressed in Europe, roll shutters became a necessity for blackouts during the Allied bombing raids. When air raid sirens alerted shop and home owners that bombing was imminent, they lowered the roll shutters over their windows and doors. Thus, glass was protected from flying debris and lights could remain on inside their homes. Neat, huh?

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So let’s talk a second about another neat invention over here. The next generation of ice trays! Very few freezers here have ice makers, which means you’re either making your own or buying it at the store (not as easy to find as in the States- definitely not at every gas station!) and storing it. I don’t know about y’all, but I hate ice trays. They spray water all over creation when you try to fill them with the water on to fast, they’re a train wreck trying to get from the sink to the freezer, then stacked, etc…Well folks, now there are bags!

Pull out the bag and fill from one end so all cube sections are full of water...

Pull out the bag and fill from one end so all cube sections are full of water…

They come in a box like Ziplocs for like one Euro. You can kinda see from the diagram on the side of the box how it works. You pull out a bag, then put the open end under the spigot and fill with water until all cube sections are full. Like magic, it’s a one way hole because no water leaks out when you then lay it flat in the freezer. Once all the cubes are frozen- maybe 4 hours- you give the bag a tug from both sides, then from both ends. This pops all the lines between the cubes, creating one big sack. Just run your hand down the bag from the top, releasing all the cubes, which are then stored in the same bag in the freezer to use whenever you’re ready. Ahhhhhh-maaaaa-zing, right?!

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Something else I think is neat/perplexing here is the check out line at the grocery store. And for multiple reasons. For starters, all cashiers at all stores sit down while they ring up your stuff. And then there are no bags. You either bring your own reusable ones or buy them for .25 each. (Or just load up your arms and hope you make it to the car. I may or may not have done this once just out of principle when I forgot my bag. Don’t judge.) And regardless, the cashier IN NO WAY helps with the bagging process- in fact, she will keep piling and piling your stuff until it’s rolling off into the floor because you can’t get it bagged quickly enough. Jeez.

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They’re also big on the little partition sticks that divide your goodies from the next person’s goodies on the conveyer belt. Doesn’t matter if you have just one item and they just have one item 6 feet behind you- the cashier will wait for it to roll up to her and keep right on ringing up. Then you have to make hand signals letting her know that wasn’t yours and to please void. Lord. I’ve been yelled at twice now over the partition sticks- complete with waving one in my face as the lady screamed what I can only assume wasn’t compliments for my well-behaved child. Whatever. Sometimes you just have to shake that ish off.

partitiongrocery

And finally, something we always find pretty interesting- mixed in with the gums and candies are cigarettes and liquor…Hmmm…They do not, however, have an assortment of tabloids informing you of the latest cellulite thigh in Hollywood or that Kanye West has gifted the world with a clone of himself…So I appreciate that.

Cigarettes are in the dispenser at the right- just hit the button and they drop down. Liquor bottles are along the middle of the top shelf on this checkout lane...

Cigarettes are in the dispenser at the right- just hit the button and they drop down. Liquor bottles are along the middle of the top shelf on this checkout lane…

Speaking of grocery shopping, another fantastic thing here in Germany are ‘Getrankemarkts’ attached to most supermarkets. Drink Markets. They often have separate entrances and sell nothing but drinks. ALL drinks. Every beer you can think of, wines, juices, sodas, waters (with and without gas, of course), iced teas (this is what they call them- most of us would wish we could expose them to the real awesomeness)…It’s just awesome having a one stop shop right where you’re going to be anyway!

Decisions, decisions...

Decisions, decisions…

So Neve and I spent Wednesday enjoying the Farmers Market and a little playground time. She absolutely loves going from tent to tent deciding what we’ll buy for dinner that night- it’s always some assortment of meats, cheeses and then something like olives or mushrooms. We’ll also pick up some fruits and veggies to have for the next few days. Neve’s absolute favorite part of the Market, however, is the stop at the Pommes Frites (french fry) truck on our way out. I swear no one loves french fries like Neve. No one. And it’s a good thing I know this considering it’s nothing to wait 20+ minutes in line for them!

Fry Line

Fry Line

One of the first tips I received when we got here was to always look for the tents/trucks with the longest lines, as that’s a dead giveaway of who has the best. It’s so true. And I will say that Germany is all about potatoes (there are so many varieties!) and they’re so good- so smooth and velvety. When someone is hand cutting and flash frying them, they really are better than most you’ve had at home…Anyhoo, we pick them up and go sit on the Town Hall steps to enjoy them. With a fork. (From what we can tell, German folks don’t eat anything with their hands and stare at us constantly when we do. Which we do. I mean, who wants to eat pizza or fries with a fork?!)

thumb_IMG_3892_1024 thumb_IMG_3893_1024All the kids here seem to wear some form of boots- probably because it’s still pretty nippy (yes, I’m so jealous of all the beach and pool pics being posted from back home!) here and probably because there’s so much walking every day. Needless to say, it didn’t take Neve long to notice and need her a pair of her own. She’s in love. And now she looks so European 🙂

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We love the merry-go-rounds here- how they're built into the ground. We love them even more when we can play on them with friends :)

We love the merry-go-rounds here- how they’re built into the ground. We love them even more when we can play on them with friends 🙂

All the kids here bring their sand toys to the playgrounds. So we got some of our own!

All the kids here bring their sand toys to the playgrounds. So we got some of our own!

thumb_IMG_3901_1024So there’s our jumble of a week. Hope you enjoyed learning a few of the little cultural tidbits we’ve been learning along the way. In all honesty, that’s part of what we love the most about our travels- seeing how things are done in other places. If everyone had the same practices and systems as we do in the States, there’d be no adventure 🙂 Speaking of which, we are headed to Belgium this weekend for the first time and really pumped as we’ve now heard from several people that it’s among their favorite destinations. We’ll be spending time in both Brussels and Bruges over a span of less than three days, so I think it’s pretty safe to say that Monday will be another recoup day, at least for Neve and me! Oh. And two weeks from today, we will be making the trek HOME! Can’t wait to start our summer. And to hug alot of necks!

One last pic. Last night, from another room, I heard John and Neve debating ‘flamingo pink’ vs. ‘super sparkly purple.’ This is what I found a few minutes later. Yes ladies, he’s taken. We are two very lucky girls.

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4 Responses to “Let’s hear it for short work weeks!”

  1. Robin May 29, 2015 at 1:58 PM #

    Neve seems to be growing while you’re over there. That needs to STOP as dad and I are missing it!! Great info in this blog – really enjoyed all the little tidbits.

    • Erin T. May 29, 2015 at 9:36 PM #

      I do think she’s growing! I’ve now got two pairs of shoes to throw away that are too small and several shirts! Two people have commented that she seems thinner in her pictures and several that she looks taller, so I’d say she’s had a growth spurt AND we’re doing a ton of walking!

  2. Eleanor May 29, 2015 at 12:53 PM #

    Fantastic blog. Loved all the info. Have a wonderful weekend and Neve’s new “boots” are the coolest!

    • Erin T. May 29, 2015 at 9:34 PM #

      She is loving her boots, that’s for sure! Great Day 1 in Belgium today!

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