Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Trip to DHL

I finished my Christmas cards for my Christmas card swap on swap-bot. These green stars are from the same packet as the white ones that I used in my Christmas decorations. I also finally mailed the scarf that I finished eons ago (see here). The deadline for mailing the scarf got moved from December 1st to December 15th. I hope I get mine before I leave for Ireland. My main reason for heading to DHL today was that Arlo needed some application materials mailed. This job search is really taking a toll on him and I'm trying to help wherever I can. There isn't much that I can do ... but I'm really good at walking to DHL.

Now here is the weird thing. Arlo's officemate took his envelopes of application materials to the Post Office and was charged 8 Euro per envelope to mail them to the US. I took a batch (a week or so ago) to DHL which is owned by Deutsche Post (the post office) and was charged 4 Euros per envelope. But today when I took in the packets of materials, I was only charged 2 Euros per envelope. Maybe Deutsche Post is owned by Xeno.

It was quite an international shipment today. Arlo's materials were being mailed to the US and Canada. The scarf was mailed to Sweden and the three cards were mailed to Belgium, Australia, and the US. I should have mailed something to Chris and Renee in Japan just to round it off. Maybe next time.
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Monday, November 26, 2007

November Wrap-Up

Well here it is the last week of November ... not a good blogging month for me. I had this huge Elephant in the room whenever I sat down to blog ... Catan. I thought if I just posted his picture with dates that would appease the elephant and I could get back to blogging but it seems to have taken some time to work. As fate would have it, I had signed up to participate in the NAtional BLOg POsting MOnth this year. All I was supposed to do was post every day (no matter how short) during the month of November. Oh well ... maybe next year.

To answer those of you that wrote comments and sent me kind emails, I'm not exactly sure what happened to Catan. The wonderful family that was keeping him for me while Arlo and I played here in Germany think that he ate something ... possibly antifreeze. I am suspicious of the timing. I have always had black cats and I've never allowed them to go outside during the weeks around Halloween. I have no evidence of foul play, however and his host family (we joked that he was an exchange student this year ... living with a family that spoke both cat and dog) had no choice in letting him out. He managed to escape a few months ago. He stayed close to the house, but wouldn't let anyone come near enough to scoop him.

Moving on to more timely topics ...
Thanksgiving was wonderful this year. We opened our house to all of our newfound friends. However, since it was a Thursday and clearly not a holiday here in Deutschland, not all of our friends could come. While we missed people it was probably a good thing since the 19 people that were here had a tight fit. I could have bought a turkey here, with a special order, but the smallest turkey (about 9 lbs) would not fit in my oven. So instead I cooked 3 chickens. The chicken was good, but I missed the turkey gravy ... chicken gravy is just not the same. I bought fresh cranberries for my cranberry sauce. I was quite excited to find some in the grocery store that specializes in gourmet and foreign foods. I made mashed potatoes (of course) and my cornbread stuffing. Many guests brought additional dishes. Everything was tasty.

My greatest culinary achievement for the season was in making a pumpkin pie. Would you believe you can't buy pumpkin in a can here? Nor can you buy ready-made pie crust. So I bought a pumpkin and I made my own crust (so easy ... I should have learned this years ago). The pie turned out really well. I had to make up my own spice mixture since I did not find allspice. I have since been told that it is available (its is called pimento). I was unable to make my favorite ... pecan pie, but Arlo was thankful that he was able to eat his "vegetables" for breakfast in the days following Thanksgiving.

I'm usually a little afraid of Black Friday and so tend NOT to shop on the day after Thanksgiving. However, here in Bonn, last Friday was the opening day of the Christmas Market. There are hundreds of booths selling handcrafted and traditional Christmas items. The food is fantastic as well. I wandered through part of it with my friend Carla after our language class. Then Arlo and I went out again Saturday evening to see everything lit up. There are three Christmas trees near the center of town that have not been decorated yet. I am not sure when they will be. It seems that the tradition here is to decorate your Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. I don't know if this goes for public trees as well. This coming Sunday is the first Sunday of Avent so perhaps they will be decorated then.

I decided that I needed a little Christmas spirit in our apartment. Of course I did not bring any of my Christmas decorations and I am not willing to spend money decorations for just a few weeks. We won't even be here for Christmas itself. But walking by the equivalent of a dollar store, I stopped in to see what they had. I bought this tiny set of lights and the white stars for less then 4 Euro. The Tannenbaum branches were 3 Euro at a flower stand. A guest at our Thanksgiving dinner gave me the Angel as a present. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

I just read a fantastic book ... "The Queen of the Big Time" by Adraina Trigiani. I had heard of this book about a year ago but never had a chance to read it. It was in the library here, in the English language section. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it. It spans a woman's life in an Italian community in Pennsylvania from her teen years in the 1920s through her death in the 1970s. Trigiani is a fantastic storyteller and I hope to find more of her books at the library.

My sister sent me "Anne of Green Gables" a few months ago. I had never read these books as a kid and I clearly missed out. I loved it. I keep checking at the library but while they have the 3rd through 6th books on the shelf, they have not had the 2nd book. I think I can probably go online and request the book, but that requires working in German. I'll check a few more times before I resort to that. One of the blogs that I read had this post, recently. She (the blogger) is writing a cookbook based on the food found in the beloved childhood classics. I think that is a book I will want when she finishes it.

Well, while I won't win a prize for NaBloPoMo this year, I hope this long blog entry makes up for some of my lack of posting lately. I am happy to say that I did win a prize in a drawing recently. I often listen to CraftSanity while home during the day. Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood has fantastic interviews with all sorts of crafty folks. Her last interview was with Kristin Roach who puts together Craft Leftovers, a zine and packet of crafty odds and ends that she sells each month. She does all of this as a college student. I'm really impressed. I won the December Craft Leftovers packet and it is being sent to me. Here is the post that shows what is in the packet and here is the post that names me as the winner.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Martinstag is November 11th. This starts the Karneval season in Catholic Germany. On this day, the children of Germany carry lanterns, sing songs and are rewarded with candy. In addition to going from door to door, most towns have a parade "Martinszuge" ending at a huge bonfire. I don't understand the reason ... but Martinstag was celebrated on different days this past week in each of the local communities. The celebration for central Bonn was on Friday night. I stood in the Munster Platz and watched the parade go by. It took a half an hour for all of the children to pass me. I then joined in with the parents walking along the side of the parade to the bonfire in the Markt Platz. I marvel at the Germans' lack of fear of fire. Children (some as young as 3 years old) carry paper lanterns with candles in them. There were fire fighters all over the center of town and particularly concentrated at the bonfire.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bunny Monster Abroad

I spend quite a bit of time each week exploring the online crafting world. So many people have marvelous crafty businesses. Maybe at some point I will put some of this effort to work for myself ... but for right now I just inundate my sister Karen with information for her crafty business -- Karen's Monsters.

I am privileged to own the very first bunny monster, called L'original on Karen's site and Häschen Monster by those who know him in Deutschland. We were recently in London visiting friends so we took the traveling egg cup idea to a new level:
This is at the Alter Zoll in Bonn. We needed to try out a few techniques for holding the Häschen Monster in front of the camera.
Look kids, Big Ben ... Parliament Building.

Westminster Abbey

We asked the Beef Eater politely to hold the bunny monster for the picture and he just as politely said "No ma'am!"

Rebuilt Globe Theater (Shakespeare's old haunt)