Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fall Day of Fun!

This weekend, after an appropriately Halloween-y midnight screening of Paranormal Activity 4 with Kai on Friday night, and a necessary Eisbären Juniors hockey game viewing at Welli on Saturday (since there are no Eisbären home games for three weeks! The horror!), we got a bunch of friends and one cute wee munchkin together on Sunday for what I would like to become a new seasonal tradition: A <Name the Season> Day of Fun!

Liz actually gave me the idea for this (gotta give credit where credit is due), as she initiated a Fall Day of Fun with her friends in Philly last year and made me super jealous when recounting it. And thus the day came to be.

We started things off at our place around noon with plenty of coffee and pumpkin cinnamon rolls that I slaved over whipped up the day before. (Note: making cinnamon rolls from scratch is so freaking time intensive, and I'm still perfecting my technique, but my goodness, it is so worth it!) The best part about this recipe that I used (from Smitten Kitchen cuz she's amazing) is that it is Micha approved. And I think we all know by now that when it comes to sweets and baked goods, that almost never happens. Success is mine!

 Aron confirms once again that all the random tchotchkes I have around the house make it super kid friendly. :) This time, he decorated mom's cappuccino with drink markers from the bar cart.

After we were decently caffeinated, we headed out in two cars (and yup, I was driving one! I'm finally useful with transportation!) to the Kürbishof in Klaistow (which is also a Spargelhof in spring) for their yearly pumpkin event/market.

Each year, there's a theme and this year it was very randomly "dinosaurs." I really don't know where they come up with this stuff but hey, I'll take a pumpkin celebration however I can get it in this country.

Are Sara and Christoph the cutest or what?

While there, we meandered through the market hall and various stands selling local seasonal goods - Sara picked up some gelatine-free gummy bears made on the farm and we picked up some incredibly fresh and deliciously tasty apple cider - checked out the various pumpkin creations they had on display, and then enjoyed some locally made beer as well while taking turns playing with little Aron.

Love his hat hair | None of us felt quite adventurous enough to try the asparagus liquer

The primary activity was, of course, picking out pumpkins to carve that evening - not an easy task with all the crazy varieties they had to offer! I opted for a green/orange stripey guy, Micha got a white one, and Aron and Christoph took home traditional orange ones. All the rest of the little ones we picked up were for eating at a later date.

We couldn't leave, though, without a stop at the corn maze, if just for comparison's sake. Micha, Sara, and I visited a real - meaning gigantic - corn maze with Liz in New Hampshire (that story still to come!), so we wanted to take a look at this tiny one and and scoff at how easily navigable it would likely be. (It was - the paths were much wider, too, and the corn much much more dead.)

Aron quickly determined that the goal of this corn maze adventure was to collect all the corn cobs he could find and/or break off. Which is how the corn wars began:

Aron determined to beat papa | Christoph better watch out, Sara has eight years of fencing training under her belt!

My favorite moment, however, was when we reached this platform - where Christoph had already beat us to finding a leftover beer - and as little Aron ascended, he turned to Micha (who was behind on camera duty) and shouted, "Keule! Komm doch mal hoch!"

Micha starting calling the little guy "Keule" at this pool party and it's been their running gag ever since. We're pretty sure that one day, Aron will turn 16 and think, "What the heck is Keule's real name...?"

(Random German lesson: Keule literally means a few things, like drumstick or a certain type of club, of the weapon sort. The boys use it in the random colloquial way that means brother or close friend and comes from a Bud Spencer and Terrence Hill film. They pretty much get all  their ridiculous sayings from those movies, which are huge in Europe but unheard of in the US - ironically, where they were filmed. The humor's all in the dubbing, I'm told.)

Finally, it was time to head home and get our pumpkin carving on. Micha had a little photoshoot with Aron in the backseat of André's car, while Sara, Christoph, and I enjoyed watching the gorgeous sunset (no pictures - I was driving) and the full moon edge its way up in the sky as we sped our way along the Autobahn.

We enjoyed drinkies - beer for the menfolk, a Sekt cocktail with ginger ale and cranberry liquer for the ladies, and gin-tonics for all of us later on - and munched on pumpkin soup, vegetable and chicken pot pies, and a kickass apple cake (courtesy of Kerstin) as the evening went on.

Kerstin stopped by briefly to bring over the soup and cake, but seeing as she had a sick husband at home and a not-too-thrilled baby with her (I like to think Hanna was just highly disappointed that Liz didn't join us), she sadly didn't stay long. But there's still next time!

 Hanna is not impressed

Aron proved to be the trustiest of sidekicks when it came to pumpkin carving. He wasn't big on pulling out the guts, (which is very odd, I think, because that part is so fun! But I'm pretty sure German kids just don't like to get dirty.) so he left that part to Sara and instead directed us all in carving out our masterpieces. He even stuck with me long after everyone was done and nodded approvingly each time I cut out a new piece of the creepy face I was doing. (I had wisely picked up a carving kit plus pattern book at Target on our US trip.)

Our masterpieces: André's raven, Christoph's free-form face, Katie's goblin, and my scary-man face

All in all, quite the success! I think I'll stick to this recipe for a seasonal day of fun. I can't wait to plan the next one... Bring it on, winter.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Travel Thursdays: Inflatable Bar Time in New Hampshire

After hanging out with sister and a bunch of other cool folks in Boston, Sara, Liz, Micha, and I picked up a rental car and made our way up to New Hampshire, with promises of a relaxing week at a peaceful lake house (Liz's) ahead of us.

Sara, very excited for her first American road trip!

Oh, you bet your ass we stopped at that massive New Hampshire liquor store on the side of the freeway to stock up. For both the lake house and home.

You don't see things like this driving through Germany, let me tell ya...

The funny part about renting our car is that this time, we had learned from our previous experience of booking the smallest size car only to find out that it didn't even fit our two bags, let alone Liz's and Natalie's (that being our previous trip to New Hampshire from Boston for a whirlwind weekend of Alyssa and Erik's kickass wedding), and so we very proudly booked a bigger size and patted ourselves on the back. Not much bigger, but quite bigger and a Jeep. Cuz when in the US, rent an SUV, am I right?

Well, after about an hour of waiting in line, we finally go through the process of refusing three extra kinds of insurance (that we'd already booked anyway) and the woman asks us how many people will be driving in the car. When we say four, she looks at the reservation and says matter-of-factly, "If you all have bags, the car will definitely be too small." Now at this point, we were rather skeptical because we can fit four people and luggage comfortably into Micha's MINI at home. We decided to chance it - who wants to pay more without even first testing the trunk - and go out and find this bad boy waiting for us:

Umm, yeah, that thing is nearly dwarfing the house. It wasn't a massive SUV of any sorts (it was some kind of Ford), but you could have fit at least five suitcases in that trunk and still and room to stick a couple children in there. If that's your kinda thing. (Needless to say, I picked this one because he was Dodger blue, like my old car, Stella.) So the moral of the story here is, rental car people are full of crap. And American cars are always big enough. :)

We nicknamed the car "the boat" because he certainly looked like he could have fared well on the open seas, and also certainly had enough room to keep us all warm and dry if it came to that.

And now we get to the fun part: our arrival at Lake Squam. After about three hours of driving and stops at the liquor store, the local farm, and the grocery store to load up on supplies and ensure we wouldn't really have to leave the house again if we didn't want to, we arrived here.

In a place we came to call perfection and pretty much never wanted to leave. I think we were all (except Liz, obviously) expecting: a smaller house, a smaller lake, many more neighbors, and a lot less tranquility. Man, it sometimes feels completely awesome to be wrong...

Sara was the only one of us to brave the water that first day - it was super chilly and rather cloudy when we arrived - but we'd already been resigned to the fact that fall had begun - since it had in Berlin - and were perfectly content with chilling in warm clothes on the dock and in the house lazily for the next five days.

That's Micha's happy face

I enjoy gesticulating wildly in Liz's company

Where he spent a whole lot of his time, away from the flock of crazy ladies

We blew up our inflatable bar anyways and hoped for the best, weather-wise. Micha and I had brought it all the way over from Germany, after all.

Oh, we're ready

And the next day, something amazing happened. Well, first Abby arrived. And that in and of itself is awesome cuz she's super fun. But after that, even more amazingness happened in the form of sun and a completely windless sky and heat!

No more sweaters necessary!

And so logically, then this happened:

And we pretty much didn't leave there for the next four days. Except to refill, but of course.

You think I kid, but we had such incredibly perfect weather the entire time that we literally spent 3-4 hours a day in our seats with the bar in one hand, a red cup (we eventually graduated to real wine glasses) full of wine in the other.

It was truly meant to be. This little semi-spontaneously planned but long-talked-about vacation completely made up for the fact that summer in Berlin this year was a complete bust.

And oh, we'll be repeating this. Pretty much every year until eternity in the form of Mandatory Adult Summer Camp. MASC for short. Two weeks. Every summer. Adults only. And the only acceptable forms of activity are: doing nothing, imbibing, and laughing. Who's in?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Inspired By...

...the best diy I've seen all week. And the winner of my I'm-gonna-make-you-for-our-Fall-Day-of-Fun-surprise contest that I ran with myself.

Photo by Pretty Simple Productions, tutorial by Oh Happy Day

...diy natural room scents to make your home smell like fall, even if maybe what it really needs is a deep clean. (Tooootally not talking about our apartment right now.)

Photo and tutorial by Inspired to Share

...cute little kitchen towels that I wouldn't be embarrassed to have hanging on our oven. Unlike the one we have from Micha's mom with Christmas bears on it.

Available at Poketo

...a sweet and simple addition to a Halloween party. Or a Fall Day of Fun...

Photo and tutorial by A Subtle Revelry

...adorable knit pumpkins that I wish I were clever - and quick - enough to do myself.

Available at Luna Cab Co

...Once again: salted caramel. But this time with apple slices arranged in mosaic form. Yeah.

Photo and recipe by Smitten Kitchen

Image credits: Spider pinata photo by Pretty Simple Productions, tutorial by Oh Happy Day | Natural room scents by Inspired to Share | Tea towels designed by Katie Bingaman Burt for Poketo via Creature Comforts | Spooky cheesecloth basket by A Subtle Revelry | Knit pumpkins Available at Luna Cab Co via Apartment Therapy | Apple mosaic tart with salted caramel by Smitten Kitchen, pinned by Jessica (hi Jess!)

Thought of the Day

Well said, Ben. Well said.

Magnet picked up on our trip to Boston specially for Micha and Kai, my favorite East German, not-particularly-familiar-with-God-and-his-work dudes.

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Weekend in Instagrams

It was another stuffy nose kinda weekend around these parts, as I managed to catch Micha's cold and was thus not up for having too much fun or a camera pointed at me at all. But my trusty phone accompanied us and so, for the first time, here is some of our weekend fun caught purely via Instagram.

We managed to catch a great hockey game on Friday despite my sniffling; it was the second home game with Giroux and Brière and man are those two fun to watch! Having them on the Eisbären sure makes me hope the NHL lockout lasts all season after all...

Saturday was spent at home (me - whining; Micha - ignoring my whining unless absolutely necessary) with a brief stop at our local Saturday farmer's market to pick up some flowers and bread. We went to my favorite flower stand - it's also the only one at our tiny market - and, as usual, got to talking with one of the women who works there. It's a family-run stand and all of them are so sweet, so we try to chat with them as often as we can when we're there. This time I was offered this striking fall bouquet that she'd put together. Flower-free but full of color and beauty. Bonus: the little orange berry-looking things are actually tiny little fruits (paradiesapfel is what she said, but minor googling didn't find me a translation) that are sweet but not too sugary and are often eaten by diabetics in Turkey for that reason. So I was told. You learn something new every day, right?

On Sunday, we met up with a bunch friends for breakfast at the ripe old hour of 10am in Friedrichshain to post-celebrate Hendryk's birthday. Needless to say, we didn't quite make it on time; but we did make it!

There's never a lack of cute, blonde munchkins when we get together these days :) (Also, are Micha and I the only non-bespectacled folks in our little group? Seems so...)

Wee Hanna, looking as precious (if somewhat shocked) as ever...

After eating and chatting laughing and catching up, not-so-baby-but-still-baby Aron convinced Micha and Axel to accompany him to the playground and so we ventured to a world that I haven't been to...well, since I was a carefree and jungle-gym-loving child, frankly. Man, the playground is a crazy place, isn't it? Kids are freaking fearless!

I appreciate the fact that this kid matched his pants to the foliage

Micha and a too-cool-for-school Aron (rocking the sunglasses) surveying the scene

Though to be honest, I was more entertained by the parents who somehow got the notion that their kids could by no means tackle a jungle gym without their help and proceeded to climb up that rope ladder with them. Please remind me one day never to do that. I look ridiculous enough as it is on a regular basis without being stuck at the top of a jungle gym with a bunch of mini-rugrats watching skeptically and giggling behind my back...

After a long, and much-needed, nap (getting up before 10am on a Sunday is rough, I tell you!), we headed back to the O2 World for the second hockey game of the weekend. And this one may have even been better than Friday's. Not the whole thing, mind you, the first two periods were a bit of a bore...

...but the Eisbären - rocking their awesome pink breast-cancer-awareness jerseys - scored 7 goals in the third period. 7! If that doesn't get your blood rushing and fist pumping, I don't know what will.

We ended things with a very simple dinner at home and a screening of Contagion, which was on my horror-movie-watching to-do list and even though it was much less horror than I thought - and therefore a much better movie than I'd expected - I still managed to get another one in this weekend, so am well on my way to reaching my October goal (hoorah!).

And how was your weekend?