Yesterday was my 29th birthday. One year away from the big 3-0. Yikes, I’m old. The day was pretty great, but passed without much thought. I had to work and buy a new hairdryer because mine started smoking on Monday and then I went to the gym with a friend. A fairly normal day, although it ended with pizza and champagne, so that was nice!
We are celebrating for real in two weeks in Champagne, France with one of my best friends from high school and her husband. I am so looking forward to it! That’s when the real celebration with happen.
As with every birthday, I’m taking this time to reflect on this past year and thinking about the year ahead. I don’t feel any older and I honestly think of myself being 23 or 24, especially when I get carded at bars (in America) or the grocery store in Germany. Yes, I have been carded in a grocery store here in Germany where the legal drinking age is 18.
This year is going to be a big year for me, I can just feel it. I’m feeling settled into life in Germany and have somewhat of a routine. Vinn and I are traveling all around Europe and are building memories that we are going to look back on when we’re 80 in our Adirondack chairs in our backyard with fondness.
This year, my 29th year, is my year to throw myself into my passion and to keep crossing things off my bucket list. Now is the time because I have no real responsibilities and it won’t be long until we have a mortgage and kids running around asking for snacks all day. I want to throw myself into what I love.
This year, I want to focus on the people that make me happy and building deeper, stronger relationships. I’ve always believed that when it comes to friendship that it’s quality over quantity hands down. Building relationships in Germany has been hard, but I have made some great friends here and I hope these relationships continue to grow. It’s also difficult to continue friendships from 7 hours away and I want to make an even bigger effort to stay in touch. I am very lucky because I text with my best friend every day, FaceTime about once a month with another friend and email back and forth with even more. I also talk to my mom and sister daily. Thank Goodness for technology.
Of course, my relationship with Vinn is my number one priority and I am excited to see where this year will take us. Physically, this year is taking us to some amazing places and I can’t wait to share these moments with each other.
This is a random thing, but this year I want to figure out a skincare routine. I’ve gotten a handle on my breakouts, knock on wood, and now I want to research products that will keep my skin looking fresh and youthful. Now, I pretty much just use a moisturizer with SPF in it since staying protected from the sun is the number one thing for your skin. I want to find some kind of eye cream and serum that will keep me looking 29 for a very long time! I’d love to hear your recommendations, if you have some.
Overall, I think year 29 is going to be filled with more passport stamps, lots of wine drinking, great conversations and amazing memories to last a lifetime.
With Easter coming up this weekend, I thought I’d share some insights into the Easter traditions here in Germany. One of my favorite things about living abroad is that I get to see how other people live, especially how other cultures celebrate holidays.
I just had to include the cutest picture of Copley. Doesn’t she just look so happy?!
Growing up, Easter was not the biggest holiday, that award goes to Christmas easily. But we would get together with my aunt, uncle and cousins and my Mima to celebrate with a big meal and lots of wine. We don’t have the same meal every year, but it’s usually something like a ham with lots of sides, a beef tenderloin or spaghetti and meatballs. We’d have Easter egg hunts when I was little, but after age 10 we pretty much stopped those. My mom always gave us an Easter basket, like seriously up until like 24, and she would even hide them throughout the house and we’d have to find them with a scavenger hunt. She’s seriously talented with coming up with rhymes for the scavenger hunt. This is my biggest memory of Easter for sure. I love little traditions like that.
A lot of Easter celebrations are similar here in German, too. It is a pretty large holiday nationwide. Schools are closed, banks are closed and no one has to go to work on Good Friday or the Monday after Easter, or Easter Monday. The Saturday before Easter is a huge day! People head to the grocery store like the Apocalypse is coming, Easter markets are everywhere and bakeries are flooded with people hoping to score an Easter “lamb,” which is a cake in the shape of a lamb.
For decorations, Germans love “Osternbaum” or an Easter tree where they hang eggs on tree leaves like the picture below or around a well like the picture above. I love this tradition because the eggs are so beautiful and full of bright colors. These trees are everywhere and they just make me so happy.
On Easter Sunday, most Germans go to a church service and then have a large, celebratory lunch with family. The typical German Easter dish is Maultaschen, which is a German ravioli or tortellini with large noodles filled with meat, usually, and with spinach. Legend has it that German monks came up with Maultaschen as a way to hide meat from God during Lent. Sneaky Germans.
For children, Easter egg hunts are very popular and Easter baskets from the Easter bunny are given on Sunday morning. The baskets are usually filled with little chocolates and most likely a Kinder überraschung or a child, chocolate surprise. Kinder is a brand of chocolate that fills a chocolate egg with a toy. They are illegal in the United States because of the potential chocking hazards from the toy inside, so naturally we had to buy some. I’ll share picture of our surprise on my Instagram once we eat them!
Overall, German Eastern and American Easter are pretty similar. We are all Christians celebrating the day Jesus rose from the dead. I am really looking forward to celebrating Easter this year here in Germany and am looking forward to seeing what the day will bring!
How are you celebrating Easter?
A Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you. OR Schon Valentinestag, as they say in German.
Tonight Vinn and I have low-key plans to head to a favorite Italian restaurant tonight. The past few years, we’ve opted for a night out rather than getting each other gifts. We both love going to restaurants and feel that we should spend our money on experiences and not gifts. Plus, this weekend we are heading to Dublin and eating out, visiting the Cliffs of Moher and drinking plenty of beer and whiskey for a lifetime. I’m really looking forward to it.
And we are both extra excited to go out tonight and this weekend because we spent all weekend on the couch. Vinn caught some kind of stomach bug on Thursday and couldn’t really move or eat. We stayed on the couch, binge watched Netflix and tried to recover. I managed to cook some delicious meals for myself and hit the gym for the first time in a month thanks to a minor medical thing. It felt amazing to finally be back and doing something healthy. I missed it.
Sorry this post is all over the place. It’s exactly how my brain is feeling lately. Wishing you all a great Valentine’s Day. I hope it’s filled with love. I will leave you now with this darling picture of my other Valentine, Copley!
Merry day after Christmas, everyone. Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend celebrating with family. Vinn and I celebrated with our little family here in Germany and it was incredibly wonderful.
Fun cultural tidbit: Christmas Eve is much “bigger” here in Germany. Most families go to church, have get togethers, eat a large Christmas goose and celebrate. And actually, Christmas Eve is the day when Germans put up their trees. This is one that I do not think I could adapt because I love having a tree and looking at it all December long. For our Christmas Eve, we spent all day in our matching penguin pajamas watching holiday movies. It was perfect!
Christmas Day, we woke up, made some homemade cappuccinos, took a family picture and opened some presents.
She will do anything for treats. Doesn’t she look like an old man wearing an undershirt with chest hair sticking out? So darn cute. And those gifts under the tree are what a “we aren’t doing gifts” Christmas looks like for my family. When my parents came to visit, they brought all of these. Vinn and I each exchanged gifts, as well.
This is the best we could get with the self-timer on my camera and some treats sitting on the tv stand. But, these pajamas are so darn cute! They are a little big, so comfy. We basically spent all weekend in them.
After opening presents, we ate a breakfast of lemon ricotta pancakes, bacon and more coffee.
We watched a few more movies and then it was time for dinner, which was homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs. And O.M.G. was it delicious! It was the first time I made meatballs since moving to Germany and I was nervous about they would turn out, but they turned out great! We’ll have leftovers for several days, which is awesome. It was so nice to have a nice meal with some wine and to reflect on the year. We also talked about our travel plans in the new year, which makes me really excited.
I would say that our first Christmas in Germany was a super success. Even though it was only the two of us, it was so nice to start some new traditions, like watching critically acclaimed movies, and celebrate as our family.
How was your holiday?
This past week has been the most magical week ever. My parents came to visit for a little over a week and we spent so much quality time together. They arrived on December 3rd and the first few days we stayed in Germany and visited pretty much every single Christmas market in the area. Then, last Thursday we headed to Switzerland. Hence, why I’ve been radio silent the past week.
We had so much fun, I can’t even really put it into words. It was a little strange because it felt like we weren’t even in Europe. It felt like we were just having a weekend trip in Detroit…but way better. We took so many pictures, drank a lot of wine and glüwein, ate way too many carbs and just laughed and laughed. Today, I thought I’d share our Germany pictures and tomorrow I’ll share our Switzerland pictures, including the most amazing wine tasting experience ever! If this was a Friends episode, it would be titled, “The One with the Christmas Markets.” So, here we go.
Stop number one brought us to the Stuttgart Christmas Market. It was early afternoon on Saturday, so it was quite crowded, but once we had some glüwein, all was right with the world. My parents split a brat and said it was the best they’ve ever had! It is true, they are really good. We walked around and looked at all the ornaments, holiday decor and different food available. It was a great way to start the trip!
Sunday brought us to a town called Tübingen for their ChocolateArt Fest. The entire main square is filled with chocolate vendors, chocolate artists and chocolate drinks. Basically, heaven on earth. Again, it was super crowded,especially because it was the last day of the festival, but it was a lot of fun!
Thank goodness for the self-timer on the camera! No one was around to take this picture, but how cute is that tree?
The buildings in Tübingen are quintessential Germany to me. It is a really cute town.
These hot chocolates were incredible: hot chocolate, marshmallows and rum. Holy geez, these were amazing. I could literally have one every single day. And my dad is eating a chocolate covered banana. Also delicious. We had to try all the chocolate, of course.
An example of some of the booths that were there. All of those are made from chocolate! A soccer cleat, shoes, purses, a soccer ball, so much stuff. They were really expensive, so we didn’t get any, but how cool!
Monday was Ludwigsburg day! We (again) visited the Christmas Market and I showed my parents around the town. Poor Vinn had to work, but he met up with us afterward. It was a nice day filled with some shopping and hot chocolate with Bailey’s.
How gorgeous does the palace look? This huge display of an Advent wreath is stunning. I love how much the city lights up and decorates for Christmas. It brings so much joy.
Copley went absolutely everywhere with us while my parents were here. She is getting much better at being patient while we’re at restaurants, but still barks at little kids and anyone on a bike. Luckily, she’s cute.
Tuesday was a bummer of a day because I had to work, as did Vinn. Mom and Dad ventured to the Mercedes Museum, which worked out well since we went when Megan was here. But, when we were finished, we went to yet another Christmas market, but this time in Esslingen. This market is famous because Esslingen is such a gorgeous town, it is actually called “Little Venice” because it is on a river and has lots of canals. I liked this market and Vinn and Dad said it had the best glüwein (or hot mulled wine) of any market.
These Christmas pyramids are everywhere! I love them and really want to buy one for our apartment, but I can’t seem to find one that I truly love yet. Every time I see them, though, I think of the Christmas Vacation scene were Eddie breaks off the top while drinking eggnog out of the moose mugs. Another reason to want one, I would laugh every time.
Here’s my mom and her grand-pup. They really missed each other. It was really cold on Tuesday, so Copley was wearing her sweater. She wasn’t as miserable as she looks.
Wednesday brought us to Heidelberg for a quick tour of the city. I wanted to show my parents the awesome fortress and another cool city in Germany. It was really nice to visit some not so frequented towns and they could really see how Germans live and not the tourist spots, even though those cities are great, too.
The five days in Germany were fantastic! It was so great to show my parents where we live, impress them with the little German we speak and experience the holiday season together. Switzerland was actually better, believe it or not. Check back tomorrow to see those pictures.