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.