Sunday Snapshots: Wedding Season

Franconia, 2015

Saturdays this time of year tend to be rather loud. Every weekend, you can hear car horns honking randomly as caravans of wedding guests drive through the countryside en route from churches to the reception venues. But every once in a while, you can catch one of these party places empty. If one must go to church, why not go to one with its own defensive wall?

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Sunday Snapshots: Friends!

South Tyrol, 2017

On our last day in South Tyrol, I wrote that the pain of leaving was lessened by meeting a very friendly foal. There were many pats, and it was wonderful. With any luck on this Sunday, I’ll be searching for him (or her, not sure), again.

31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 12

I was just about finishing packing up for our trip when it occurred to me that I also needed to squeeze in the day’s writing before we go to friends for dinner. I also had one more task to do, which was to empty the card of the DSLR a bit, as I always forget that, and then end up trying to walk and delete things at the same time. Not great, especially as the card is 32Gb, which is not exactly small.

Short on time, I took a quick look at how many pictures were on the camera, and told BV to pick a number before 1 and 2800-somethingish. He opted for 2244, so here it goes.

Alsace, you are pretty.

After Christmas, we packed up and drove to the Alsace for a few days with my parents and sister, who were visiting. We spent most of the time in Colmar, but made day trips to Strasbourg and Kaysersberg. BV and I had been to Strasbourg before, but Colmar and Kaysersberg were new to everyone.

I took this while standing over the village of Kaysersberg, just outside its ruined castle. Like any good, old, European town, the castle sits on top of a hill, and looks out over vineyards on one side, and towards rolling green hills on the other.

It’s rather appropriate actually that he picked this picture, because we *almost* went back to France for his birthday trip. We celebrated in Strasbourg a few years back, and this trip just solidified my love of all the colorful little towns tucked under hills rolling with vines. In the end, we couldn’t decide exactly where in France to go, and opted for heading south again, but we will certainly be returning here in the future.

Kaysersberg is one of several towns in the Alsace that claims to be the inspiration for Beauty and the Beast, and it was easy to see why. Narrow streets, crooked houses, half-timbering galore, mulled local wine on every corner… that last part isn’t specifically Beauty and the Beast related, just a nice perk in this wine-growing region… it was beautiful.

There is a strong case for a future summer trip where we hike village to village, eating, drinking, and hopefully walking  most of it off before the next stop to eat and drink some more. I’m not sure what more one could want from a vacation, honestly.

Speaking of vacation, we’re off tomorrow and I’m going to try to continue the daily posts while we’re away. It worked for a few days last year until we got an epic storm that knocked out the internet for the duration of our visit. The forecast is pretty much rain every day, which means we’re 1) over packing like crazy and 2) not optimistic about the internet service. But if it doesn’t work, I’ll go analog and update when we get back. TBD, for those of you kindly following along. 🙂

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 11

Me: What should I write about?

BV *flipping through local magazines and generally procrastinating instead of putting another coat of varnish on the hallway floor*: Write about spring in ‘Schland.

Me: That’s general and I’ve kind of done a lot of that. What else?

BV: Write about *insert several other suggestions here*

Me: You are not helpful right now. Weren’t you going to varnish that hallway again tonight?

BV: … *flips through more pages*

… *several minutes pass* …

BV: Aww!

Me: Ooooh, is it a dog? (There are often dogs up for adoption at the local Tierheim in the magazines.)

BV: Nope… look!

He handed me the magazine and at the bottom of the page was a picture of a woman seated in a chair with an accordion. Next to her, stood a goat.

Me: What’s with the goat?

BV: No idea. Didn’t read the whole thing, but there’s some culture program.

Me: I have questions. Does the goat figure into her act?

BV: *flips through more pages*

… *several more minutes pass* …

BV: Alright, I’m going. Write about goats.

Me: *starts typing furiously*

We need a goat. I think this would be a much better choice than even those robot lawnmower things. I would also accept a duck or goose, as those eat bugs and function as guard dogs, but I think a goat would be the preferable choice. I also have aspirations of one day learning how to make cheese, and this would save us a small fortune because we buy A LOT of goat’s cheese. We’ll also need a cow, and possibly a sheep. All of these animals will fit very well in the small mountain house that we someday acquire for Euro pennies, and we shall grow geraniums and make cheese. It will be excellent.

I already know that we’re both very good with goats, as last summer a goat tried its best to befriend us. BV won’t let me post the pictures where the goat tried to make out with him, but he definitely got licked. A lot. Running back down to the car when he realized that he had forgotten his jacket a few kilometers below, and then back up again, had apparently made him extra salty. But here you can see the goat in question checking out our gear when we stopped for a break.

Nomnomnom

It was a good thing BV had gone back for his jacket though, as our return trip was decidedly misty. But the goats still emerged from the fog to join our pack. We are natural herders, it seems.

Closer to home, there is a garden patch nearby here that is also home to a goat. Sometimes.

What does that mean? I don’t know exactly, but I have questions.

It’s a little garden plot in the forest, with two small structures on it. One is more garden-house style, but extremely *ahem* rustic. The other looks a bit like a chicken coop.

On my usual walking route, I pass by at least a few times a week this time of year. There is almost always an elderly man there on Sundays, with a small hatchback car. When he is there, there is also a goat.

The chicken coop-looking structure is certainly large enough to fit this goat, which is a decent sized animal. Much bigger than those little guys above. However, it’s nowhere near big enough for him to live in there full-time. Additionally, I’ve never heard a peep of noise when walking past and the man isn’t there. And you bet I have paused, tried to make some noises, just to determine if anything might be in the coop besides chickens (which are sometimes knocking about when the man is present, too).

So where does this goat live? Does he live in the coop? Does he live in the rustic house and just not get out much? Does he travel with the man in the car on Sundays to this garden plot? Does he travel in the car generally speaking?

In which case…

Where does this man live the rest of the time? Does he have a house with enough space to afford a goat to live with him? In which case, why this little garden plot? Does he live in a flat with a goat? What does the goat do all day? Do they travel around and have adventures? Is he some sort of emotional support animal? Does he detect if the man’s blood sugar is too high or low like those diabetes-detecting dogs? Does he do tricks? Do they perhaps go to children’s birthday parties?

WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?

I’ve been walking past this… situation for quite awhile now, in case you couldn’t tell. I’ve given this a lot of thought. But the mystery remains.

Well now. Goats, sheep, and yes, CATS. What other animals should I tackle during the May writing challenge which is unintentionally becoming animal-themed?

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

Amateur Hour Baking: Zwiebelkuchen

Subtitle: Day 10 of the May Writing Challenge* 😉

This was my first attempt at a savory cake from Classic German Baking, and perhaps a surprising choice for someone who isn’t always the most fond of onions. However, raw onions chopped up in a salad are a far cry from Zwiebelkuchen’s piles of onions sauteed in bacon and oil to tasty perfection. Good thing too, because you need a lot of them for this recipe. It is, after all, literally onion cake.

Before we get to the onions though, dry ingredients are mixed together, and since this recipe is for a yeasted dough, left to rise.

The crust is then pushed into the tin. My dough didn’t seem to rise much (more on that later), and I had a hell of a time trying to stretch out the dough well enough to fill the tin. I managed to cover the whole bottom in the end, despite all the sliding around of the baking paper.

Think this looks odd? Just wait.

Then it was on to prepping the onion mixture. I somehow managed to buy not exactly the right kind of Speck, but bacon is bacon is bacon, right? Plus with my eyes watering so much thanks to the onions, I can pretend the package says Speck.

Into the oven it went, and into the bathroom I went to give my eyes a good, thorough rinsing. It was all worth it though, when the house really began to smell like dinner.

The Zwiebelkuchen came out of the oven looking crisply browned, but when we removed it from the tin, we found that it was pretty darn flat. Really, it looked more like an onion pizza than anything else. Observe.

Pizza?

Nevertheless, we were hungry and sliced it up for dinner. The onion part of the cake was good, rich with onions, bacon, and egg, but the crust was crap.

It was dense, chewy, definitely not right. I’d used the normal dry Backhefe, or baking yeast, that we have in the house, and it was clearly not the correct choice. I’ve had problems with it before, mostly when we’ve tried doing our own pizza crust. It has worked fairly well when I’ve made focaccia breads, but that has been the only success. This was the last straw.

I did a bit of hunting and discovered that duh, the dry baking yeast found on the shelf here is not like the dry shelf yeast in the U.S. Why you gotta confuse me, Germany? In short, the next week’s trip to the supermarket had me combing the refrigerated section for Würfelhefe, or fresh yeast. A second attempt was at hand.

I’m still not 100% convinced that I’m using the yeast correctly, but there was definite improvement. It’s hard to judge rise in pictures, but here’s the post-rising time difference from the first cake to the second.

The dough on the second try was much easier to stretch out into the tin, and didn’t seem to have such odd coloration to it. I was encouraged. And when it came out of the oven? Well…

We have rise!

It’s not crazy-thick, but I’m not sure how much it should have risen. It looks fairly comparable to the photo in the book, I think, but I’ll see how this develops as I try more yeasty things.

And I should really pay more attention to replicating angles correctly, but here are some slices for comparison…

So we’re learning. And after all, isn’t that the point of this whole exercise?

Have you made Zwiebelkuchen? Can you help me with my yeast problem?** Leave a comment and do so!

 

 

*not trying to overwhelm anyone’s reader feed here. Let’s not get out of hand.

**It’s only gross if you think about it too much. Stop thinking about it, weirdo.

31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 9

*Sweet sigh of relief*

I love May. Tomorrow is yet another public holiday, in this case Ascension Day/Father’s Day, and officially my first day of a 12-day break. We started the party this evening, with an assortment of Italian meats and cheeses for dinner, with a hefty bottle of Teroldego to get us ready for next week in South Tyrol.

BV has got a day up on me though, as he had today off too. Since we finally had all the cats (CATS) out of the way, he got started on a couple of things that we need to do which are basically impossible with a pet. Before my parents visited several years ago, we laid down some pressed wood in the hallway, after we had a water incident and had to toss the laminate. However, we put it down just a day or two before they arrived, and didn’t have time to properly seal it. And with the cat, we nearly never had more than a day or two with her out of the house to take care of it. So that was step one. BV sanded the wood, and sealed one half of the length. Hopefully tomorrow it’ll be ready to seal the other side, as we do need to able to walk on at least half of it to get around the house.

It was also a good opportunity to open up all the windows and get some air circulating in here. I plan on some fairly intense vacuuming, which is easier without cats flying in every which direction. In a perfect world, I’d drag out the piles of stuff that I want to put up for sale online, but I feel like that’s a multi-day, preferably BV out of the house task. I’ll settle for a decent deep clean of the pantry and some bathroom tile scrubbing, in the meantime.

Then it’ll be the usual ritual of pre-trip laundry, and the packing of stuff. The forecast for our week isn’t looking too hot, so it’s going to be a lot of layered hiking gear, and a pile of books in case it really does rain all day every day. Cross fingers and press thumbs, if you don’t mind.

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Writing Challenge 2018: Day 8

Prompt: The perfect writing conditions

For starters, not this.

This post is coming a bit earlier today as we’re leaving shortly for a rare midweek evening out. Normally I would have hunted for the end of the internet in full procrastination mode as I’ve done on the previous days, and hit publish shortly before midnight, but today we’ve got things to do.

First problem with the current writing conditions is that I’m bushed. I slept for crap because (sorry, again with the CATS) the Three Thundercats of the Apocalypse made the all-night party last night. Tuesdays are a 6:30 am wake up time for both of us, as we drive to work together, making sure to leave by 7:35 at the latest or risk the horror of the daily Stau on the Südwesttangente.

I teach three classes in this company every Tuesday. Today’s crowning achievement was being so tired that I grabbed the thick, dark blue folder for my Monday class instead of today’s groups, so I got to do fun things like have everyone sign a random sheet of paper for attendance instead of the official form. With any luck, everyone will be present the last two weeks of the month so I can correct it then. If not, *shit happens.*

Normally I’m then finished, but instead today I had managed to squeeze in an individual student who normally meets Wednesdays but has been super busy. That meant hopping a bus to a subway, then running to shove a Korean beef bowl in my face because I was famished, before grabbing another subway to a train and finally to her company.

We had our lesson and then it was back on the train, to another subway, to another subway, to  my train home. I. Am. Tired.

But.

Our friend S. is back from his travels, and since our Marry will be hanging out with him while we’re gone, we’re taking the party over to this place tonight. That means as soon as I finish typing this, it’ll be time to wrangle all of them into their respective boxes and hope for the best. Currently BV is running around collecting errant toys, scooping litter boxes, and readying everything for transit. He’s a good egg, but it’s not the best environment for concentration.

S. invited us to hang out and watch the Eurovision semi-final tonight, and I am looking forward to that. I was somewhat brokenhearted when I realized that the finale was this Saturday (I thought it was at the end of the month for some reason), and we’re invited to friends for dinner. She’s a great cook, but EUROVISION! Oh well, I suppose I can get the highlights on YouTube afterwards.

I’ve been thinking a lot about taking some time off one of these days to try to do some more serious writing. In my mind I know the exact place that I’d want to go. I *think* it would be pretty ideal, as I can get there by public transport, we’ve stayed there before and I know it has everything I’d need to function for a few days. Plus, nature, hiking and mountains right out front. However, he’s almost always booked up, and I’d need to find a decent week (or so) that I could get away without sacrificing too much work. The joys of freelance life, my friends. But this has been bouncing around my head for months now, so maybe it’s worth actually trying. Can the ideal situation really make a difference? Or do I need the chaos of flying furry creatures, BV wandering through with watering cans, and the rooster next door being permanently confused about what time it is? Guess I’d have to try it to find out.

Now, to round up the herd.

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 7

Prompt: Have you ever witnessed something miraculous?

Miraculous to me always conjures up headlines and tabloid pictures of people who think they saw the face of Jesus in a slice of toast ala Glee. I’m not sure that I believe in actual “miracles,” the kinds of things that people go on pilgrimages and pray for, or where loaves and fishes multiplied to feed the masses. Frankly, a Jane the Virgin-style medical mishap miracle seems much more likely, and that’s supposed to be straight out of a telenovela.

However, I do believe in tiny miracles. If I were the type to keep a gratitude journal, here are some of things that I’ve seen that fall into that category.

  1. Running up the train station stairs just as the train starts to pull away, and it stops for you. It happened once, and it was AMAZING.
  2. The way that the owner at our favorite Greek restaurant will move mountains and people to find us a table, reservation or not.
  3. How a friend currently half a world away and I can be reading the same book at the same time. It’s a few years old now, so it’s not like we both hit the “new releases” table. But she finished already so now I’m behind… it’s supposed to get pretty rough, so I’m saving it for next week’s vacation when I can emotionally invest.
  4. When a student self-corrects themselves on a longstanding error for the first time. Of course, it was less miraculous a few minutes later when the person next to him made the mistake. But the jokes about contagious errors were pretty funny.
  5. Receiving a wedding thank you note that contains an uncommonly good candid picture of you and your significant other.
  6. The day my great-grandma’s birthstone ring fit me for the first time since she gave it to me years ago.
  7. Waking up to pictures of people from my TEFL course meeting up all these years later and in all sorts of locations.
  8. The first time BV made a joke from The Office. Such a proud day.
  9. When we went to BV’s dad’s for lunch, and had added avocado to his usual salad of cucumbers and a crazy amount of onions. If that’s my only contribution to his culinary repertoire, that’s something.
  10. Snagging a chair at the Cafe Wanderer Bieramt on a sunny day. I will happily sit on the ground, but I’m old enough to prefer a chair, particularly in skirt season.

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Writing Challenge 2018: Days 5/6

Prompt: Where you can be found on a Saturday morning

See now, I jinxed myself. I said I wouldn’t write about cats again and what happened? CATS.

BV and I had a tentative plan to go down south to a town in the hops growing region of Hallertau yesterday. Since he finally got himself a pair of Lederhosen and I have a shiny new Dirndl, we thought that a Saturday trip to watch them put up a Maibaum would be a great excuse to wear our new duds. But then, cats.

Milo pretty much spent all night making noise on Friday. He started when I wrote the post on Friday and didn’t let up until the wee hours of Saturday morning. Needless to say, we didn’t get a lot of sleep. When we finally peeled ourselves out of bed, we decided that there was no way we could handle getting the shopping done and then hopping on a train anywhere.

Instead, our Saturday was spent how Saturdays in Germany are usually spent. Since nothing is open on Sundays, I put together the projected meal plan for the week, and we went to the store. BV’s parents were coming over today, so we ensured that we’d have enough meat to keep the grill full. Then it was cleaning, and a bit of garden work. We had grand plans to scrape the sidewalk clean but it got late, and we got lazy. BV washed the windows, and I raked up a bunch of dead grass and pulled out more rogue hops vines and stinging nettle. That was quite enough work for me, so I rewarded myself with sun + beer + book time.

We also decided that since it was Cinco de Mayo, we should probably eat something Mexican-ish, and I made the most absurdly large pan of nachos possible for two people. Plus margaritas, because those are always a good choice.

Feast mode

In case you’re curious, I more or less followed this recipe. We’ll be having these again, though I will definitely be cutting it in half unless we’re expecting a pro football team.

Nacho feast, drinks, and a couple of movies later, it was well past midnight and my writing hadn’t gotten done. Time is of course the usual problem with any challenge like this, and this weekend was a good reminder that I’ll have to set myself time to do everything I need to get done. If fairies could come deal with the dishes, that would be extremely helpful.