Friday, December 21, 2012

Back in Germany, in time for Christmas

This is going to be a long post! I am back in Germany, and also finally have internet so I can finally catch up on some stuff I wanted to blog about.

It's been a busy couple of months! We got our stuff packed and shipped - the air shipment made it here with my rigid heddle loom and spinning wheel. My sewing machine, serger and 4-shaft loom are currently en route via sea container.
 
 
We had been in a temporary, furnished apartment so we also were occupied with all the things one does changing apartments: packing, moving, cleaning, unpacking, cleaning, buying furniture from IKEA, putting together furniture from IKEA, cleaning, getting cable and internet connected, etc., etc. Oh, and more cleaning. We had to clean our old place, of course, but I didn't expect to have to clean the new one. The previous tenants did leave us a closet full of cleaning supplies - I just wish they'd used them during the 4 years they were here. I went through an entire bottle of Mr. Clean, numerous sponges, two sponge mop heads, and a pair of rubber gloves. The good news is that scrubbing floors, bathroom tile and ovens burns calories. Along with lots of walking, I've been able to lose about 15 pounds, despite a diet that includes beer, pretzels, spaetzle, and bratwurst. When my sewing machine gets here I will need to make some alterations to some of my clothes - and of course make some new ones!

But it's not been all work and no play (oh yeah, I did quit my work and am now a full time hausfrau!). We've been enjoying Christmas in Germany. Most of the towns have Christmas markets, either for just a weekend or for the entire month.

Stuttgart Christmas Market
You can buy Christmas ornaments and decorations, gifts, kitchenware, scrub brushes...the scrub brush booths are very popular and sell every type of brush you could imagine - Germans do like a clean house (the previous tenants in our apartment were Americans).

Christmas decorations in the Nuremberg Christmas Market

Of course there is also food at these Christmas markets. Bratwurst, of course, but chocolate covered fruit is very popular as well as warm nuts. But the most important item at the Christmas market is something called glühwein. It's a warm, spiced wine that will help you deal with the bitter cold as well as the crowds in the market. Every (adult) seems to be holding a cup of steaming glühwein - usually a colorful one, decorated with the name of the town, which you can keep or turn in to get your 2-3 euro deposit back. We've begun a small collection of them.

One of our favorite Christmas markets is in Esslingen, Germany. They have a market with a medieval theme, with stalls selling handmade items like baskets, knives, and soaps. The glühwein is sold in more rustic looking mugs and cups. I spied a booth selling spindles and just "had" to get one, along with some fiber. I was looking at a spindle that was more decorative but was undecided, then a woman walked right up and bought it! So I looked at some others and was actually glad she made up my mind for me because I chose one that was better balanced. The seller saw me twirling it in my hand and asked if I spun - or at least I think she did since I still don't know much German. I indicated I did, and the woman gave me a hunk of plain white fiber - I presume to practice with before I spin the purple fiber I bought. So nice!

Drop spindle from Esslingen Chistmas Market
  video
Video from Esslingen Medieval Christmas Market 

I've created a little Christmas in our apartment too. We have a little, potted live tree, and I made a wreath for the front door.



And finally, I made Christmas cookies. I make them every year, but making them in Germany is special because these are recipes from my German-heritage grandmother. The white cookies are Pfeffernusse, and I made the sugar cookies I've made many times in the past (link to recipe here).
 

I had a little difficulty getting the oven temperature right. Not only is it an oven I've not used before, but I had to convert the baking temperature to Celsius. The first batches were a little overdone. But the cookies came out pretty good, and I will admit to eating more than a few - but having to scrub the oven beforehand worked off some calories and I deserved a reward!

I still have photos to share of some of the places we've visited, such as Italy, and I also have some knitting FOs to share. But I'll save that for another post since this one is now quite long.

Happy Holidays!

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