Tuesday, March 24, 2009

10th Anniversary Continued--Oberwesel

David and I arrived at the castle early to make sure that everything was all set for the evening. It was some hours before check in, so we planned to explore the castle grounds a bit, then drive down to the village of Oberwesel. In the gardens we discovered an arch framing a path. We followed the path and soon realized it led all the way down to the village. It is a very pretty walk. Once in the village we realized that this time of year, on Saturday afternoon, Oberwesel is very nearly a ghost town. We didn't mind a bit. We wandered about exploring the narrow streets,  looking at all the cool old buildings.

A passing woman noticed us taking pictures and showed us how to get to the town wall. She didn't speak English and we don't speak German, but with a lot of sign language we seemed to understand each other. We spent some time walking along the top of the wall enjoying the view. We even climbed up one of the watch towers. Dave enjoyed the elevated view of the town and the vineyards across the Rhine, I just enjoyed getting down onto firm ground. Too high for me!

Although all the shops, and even the visitors center were closed, we did notice several restaurants open for business. For lunch we split a döner kebab. YUMMM! We noticed several docks along the Rhine where river cruise boats pull in during the summer.  I would assume there is more going on during tourist season.

If you do decide to stay at the hotel and walk down to explore the village make sure you pay attention the last photo in the slide show below. If you walk down, you will have to walk back up! It is a looooong way back up. I was quite sore the next day!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Yikes That's High!

David and I had a fabulous weekend. We stayed in the tower room at Castle Schöneburg, alone, with no children.  WOOHOO!  I am too tired to sort through the 300+ pictures we took this weekend and put it all together in a post that makes any kind of sense.  Here's a teaser.  I will post more as the week goes on.

Castle Schöneburg is now a hotel and our room was the highest room in the Hotel.  It has a balcony, the highest balcony in the hotel.  My husband and I enjoyed a glass of sherry and some apples on the balcony. I am afraid of heights.  Here is are some views from the balcony so you can appreciate how brave I was to sit out there with my husband. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Time Mood Swings

I have always ben a bit of a moody person. I honestly don't know how my husband puts up with my moods, but he does and cheerfully too! What a prince, I am one lucky lady. Late February/early March is the worst time of the year. The beauty of fall is gone, the excitement and decorations of the holiday season is past, even the romance of Valentines is done. It is just dark, dull, and (here in Germany) COLD. I have been in a sort of funk for the last month. This seems to happen every year. I didn't really notice this trend until college when it seemed so much harder to make decent scores during the spring semester. Getting older is not making me any mellower.

For the last month I have done only what really needs doing. Everything seemed to take such an effort. The house cleaning and cooking have gone on as scheduled, but there haven't been any fancy meals or desserts lately, just the basics. Oh and please don't look under the sofa, the dust bunnies have really grown and are starting to get territorial. Blog posts have been few and far between. In January I managed 20 posts, in February only 5. E-mails and facebook have suffered similar fates. If you are someone who hasn't heard from me lately, my sincere apologies, and I will try to do better!

This week the fog seems to be lifting. I don't know if it the effect of the first few flowers starting to bloom, the gradually lengthening days, or the (slowly) warming temps; but I am feeling better, happy even. Today I can't seem to stop smiling. I got some strange looks on the way to the grocery this morning. Germans are generally reserved. If you go around smiling at strangers you will get some strange looks. Of course I have one more reason to smile we will be celebrating our 10th anniversary* by spending the weekend here:

That's a pretty good reason to smile, don't you think?

*Our anniversary was March 13th (Friday the 13th this year) but Castle Schönburg didn't open for the season until this weekend. Hopefully it is worth the wait. 

It's Officially Spring!

According to the calendar in the kitchen (from McQueeney Feed Mill - Thanks for the care package Mom I loved it!)  today is the official start of spring.  This morning when I walked the kids to the bus stop it was still cold enough to need a coat, although Cody declared it was spring so he wasn't going to wear a coat.  Teenagers! The weather widget on the side bar declared it was 0 Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) definitely cold enough for a coat, but the sun is shining so at least it isn't another grey and rainy day. I am heartily tired of being cold. I am ready for sun and warm weather, skirts and sandals. Here is the view from my window today.  

No I don't get tired of the looking at that thing. I think it is cool.

The trees are still bare.  The grass is green, but then it stayed green all winter, even with the snow. What kind if grass stays green when it is buried in snow for two weeks?  German grass, I guess.  Where are the new leaves?  Where are the flowers? Are there any signs of spring?   I took my camera and walked around my building looking for hope.

Yay!  Spring!!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dessert Night--Donuts

Dessert these days seems to be a forbidden pleasure. Something to feel guilty about. Something almost shameful. We long for a special occasion when we can indulge, when we can tell the guilty feeling that it is OK because it was someone's birthday or anniversary. At least I do! I love desserts, well I love food, but especially desserts. They are such fun to cook and fun to eat as well.

A few years ago I was struggling to lose baby weight left from 4 pregnancies. During my last pregnancy I ended up with gestational diabetes. My Doctor made it crystal clear that if I didn't loose some weight I stood a better than 50% chance of ending up with type 2 diabetes. In case you didn't know 50% of all women who have gestational diabetes will end up with type 2 within 5 years. One pregnancy worth of needles, checking my blood sugar, and giving myself insulin shots was quite enough, thank you! I have no desire to make it a permanent way of life.

To say I was motivated to lose weight would be an understatement. I would go along for weeks following the diet, eating lots of fruits and veggies, low fat protein, exercising, and of course forgoing desserts. I would make desserts for the kids and my husband but I would sip my diet soda and say "No Thanks" while they ate angel food cake. Then would come the day when I would find myself suddenly eating an entire tub of mocha frosting....with a spoon....like it was ice cream. Yeah, not a healthy choice I know but darn that stuff tastes good! So combine my lack of will power with 4 kids whining, "Can we have dessert?" every blessed day along with the saying "All things in moderation" and the end result is DESSERT NIGHT.

That's right we have a designated dessert night. Every Wednesday night we have something special for dessert. Sometimes it is something really simple like ice cream sundays, other times I go all out and make something elaborate like apple cinnamon crepes flambe. Yes, I set dessert on fire. You want to impress your kids? Set dessert on fire, instantly you are a cool mom.

The whining has stopped. If it isn't Wednesday there really isn't any point in asking for dessert, of course they find lots of other things to whine about like cleaning their bedrooms. Even better the weight came off and I was eating dessert on a regular basis. My will power has improved a lot now that I know I have something to look forward to. If I am craving sweets big time I will have a small treat like a Hershey's Kiss or a biscotti, but usually I will just look through recipes trying to decide what I really want this week. Since I am the cook it is always something I want to eat.

This week I wanted donuts, not berliners (jelly donuts), real plain old fashioned donuts, but there doesn't seem to be a Dunkin' Donuts, J.CO, or Crispy Creme in Frankfurt. If there is, don't tell me, it's better that I don't know. What to do? I made my own donuts. I used a recipe for beignets to make the dough. Instead of the traditional powdered sugar topping I glazed some of them with milk glaze (2 teaspoons hot milk and a half a cup of confectioners sugar) the rest I covered in cinnamon sugar. As you can see I can't find my donut cutter so I just cut squares and triangles. They might look funny but they tasted just fine!

Monday, March 9, 2009

PSBN - Plant a Garden

Ok, so I didn't get my act together this month. I was really excited when Lotus announced that she was bringing back Project Support Beauty in Nature. I decided to have the kids help clean out the miniscule garden in front of our apartment building. I had great plans to take cute pictures of them pulling up last year's dead plants and raking the soil.  I know it is early to start a garden, especially here, but the flower bulbs are starting to bloom and I am itchy to play in the dirt. 

Here is where I ran into a problem. First the dirt is more like mud, it seems like it never stops raining here! Second the sun actually made a rare appearance in Frankfurt on Saturday and we spent the day playing washers and barbecuing, instead of gardening. Hey, we are from Texas! So we didn't actually get any cleaning of the garden site done, although the kids did remind me (again) they want to plant their pumpkin seeds, they saved these from their Jack-O-Lanterns back in October and are NOT going to let me forget it. Third I might have gotten to the garden on Sunday but it was raining, again.  Sigh!

So what did we get done?  Well we spent time outside with the kids.  For some kids trying to disengage them from the video games and out the door can be problematic. As for my kiddos I refuse to allow one of those things in the house -problem solved before it even began.  Time outside equals kids outside in nature.  Even if you aren't actually beating the little heathens over the head with the message "Nature is lovely and we should protect it," there is the chance they might notice how nice it is outside on their own.  We picked up some trash in the yard.  David and the boys are planning to pick up trash all over the neighborhood for a cub scout project. We also began planning how to make the most of the small garden area we do have.  So I don't count this month's post as a loss.  We have plans for the future and I can always post updates over the next few months if I don't come up with some brilliant idea between now and then. 

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A House Divided

This morning Dave decided to treat the kids and announced he was making pancakes.  And thus it began:

"Yay! Pancakes!"
"Nooooo not pancakes, Waffles!"
"He said he was making pancakes!"
"But I don't like pancakes! Yuck!"

Alonzo HATES pancakes. Seriously he would rather eat cold cereal, but he like waffles. Weird kid! Colin feels the same way about waffles.  How to solve this?  Dave made pancakes, while I used the other counter to make waffles.  Problem solved. Yes, our kids are spoiled, but I didn't have to listen to the usual round of complaints since both boys were happy.  Totally worth the extra mess!