Saturday, December 24, 2011

Frohes Fest

Be happy.

We're back from Edinburgh in time to enjoy Christmas at home. Have a warm, merry, blessed holiday season!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Trier Weihnachtsmarkt 2011

We visited the Trier Christmas Market last Saturday, on a chilly but clear afternoon. It seemed that everyone else in far-western Germany had the same idea. Here are The Husband's photographic impressions of the market--taken when he could stop long enough not to fear being immediately crushed or elbowed in the spleen.

I realize that these photos don't really give you a clear idea of the sheer volume of people crammed into the Trier Marktplatz. But trust me, they were there--especially around the glühwein huts. Move along, people--move along! 

Ah, but it's all so beautiful. Christmas markets are absolutely one of the best things about living in Germany.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More from Nancyfrance

As promised, here are more photos from our day-trip to Nancy a few weeks ago. Coming soon: Christmas market pics!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gypset Style

I've been meaning to blog about this book for ages. I bought the book last year, but somehow I just discovered the blog. Here's what author Julia Chaplin has to say about Gypset Style:
My general approach to life and my writing is to have hi-low grand adventures. During my travels I came up with the word Gypset: (gypsy + jet-set) to describe a new type of travel, and cultural foraging at home, that redefines the optimal adventure as something with the global references and chic speed of the jet-set mixed with the alternative, anti-commercialism and nomadic wile of a gypsy.

Cool, yes? Though I may not have the financial profile (not necessary, supposedly, but...) or street-cred (Devendra Banhart! Jade Jagger!) of the true Gypsetter, I certainly appreciate the mindset and aesthetic. And I certainly don't think I'd mind hanging out for a bit with Damien Hirst and Maia Norman on their Thames-River houseboat.

Note: the book is more about a way of life than a certain "look," so don't expect lots of house photos (I would have liked more). But since it's text-heavy, if you're curious about the Gypset lifestyle, you're likely to learn a lot.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


We went to Nancy (Nancyfrance--you know, rhymes with "fancypants") for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It's a lovely city that some call the "other Paris," or something like that, and it's just over two hours from our home. We had a great time just walking around, taking pictures (more to come), eating chocolate, and having lunch (outside! in the sunshine! in November!) in the gorgeous Place Stanislas. Quite a nice day!

Speaking of nice days, I hope all my American family and friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We hosted 28 friends we knew in Japan who all now live in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. They've become a second family to us, and it was so nice to be together.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

5 Senses Tour, #1

watching: this episode of Wallander (from the subtitled Swedish version, not the Kenneth Branagh series, which I haven't seen yet). Perfectly atmospheric on a foggy, chilly day.

tasting: the hint of balsamic vinegar, which makes such a difference in this wonderful lentil soup.

listening to: Stan Getz and Bill Evans, on Verve in the '60s. Ideal in the evenings.

touching: the silky hair of my adorable canine companion, who loves sitting in my lap when I turn on (and sit under) our Japanese heater table (kotatsu).

smelling: rosemary I dried for a week or so and then stripped off the branches and placed in a small jar. Such an energizing aroma!

Yes, I've finally remembered to participate in Monica's 5 Senses Tour this week!

Monday, November 14, 2011


Some beautiful musings on good food:

I'd love to see the entire movie sometime.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Travel and Food Memory

I was browsing over at anthropologie yesterday when I happened upon the book Bought, Borrowed, and Stolen: Recipes and Knives from a Travelling Chef.

I was immediately intrigued, so I went and found this video (enjoy it--it's short and sweet). I love how British chef Allegra McEvedy pores over her well-used travel journals and comes up with her own recipes based on wonderful things she's eaten on her travels.

I was reminded of how great a role meals have played in my family's travels (as if I could ever forget--we practically plan vacations around food).

There was dessert after my 2008 birthday meal in Hong Kong.

There were many instances of amazing ramen and gyoza in Japan.

There was this canal-side omelet in Amsterdam,

roasted chicken in Bruges,

and fanciness-aplenty in Provence.

That's only scratching the surface, of course. I hope you all have some wonderful travel-related food memories, as well. Oh, and I'll be buying Allegra's book and sharing in her "borrowings." Maybe I'll try some re-creations of my own--just not the fried crickets and ants we had in Hanoi...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Soup Like Baxters

I've never eaten Baxters Soups before, but their latest TV advert really speaks to me. Last-minute company coming for dinner at your isolated stone cottage in the beautiful, windblown countryside? Just drag out an old wooden table and chairs and an armload of candles, get a small bonfire going, and head outside with wool-sweater-clad family and friends and, of course, your adorable dog, to dine upon warming soups and crusty bread amidst laughter and reminiscences. Sunset over the lake makes it just that much better.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Around Here Lately

Sorry I haven't blogged in a couple of weeks. I've been spending more time on Pinterest lately; in fact, that's become my new repository for cool things I find online (including great finds via other Pinners, of course!). But here are some photos that will show you a few things we've been doing lately:

Here is The Husband with his Scottish friend, both be-kilted and ready to cheer on the Scottish national soccer team at a match down in Lichtenstein.  The Tartan Army was on the move! 

Bagpipers instead of cheerleaders: a good choice, in my opinion--just sayin'.

And back in our neck of the woods: these fluffy, curious cows hang out in a field out behind our village. They are so adorable, but one of them is not very kind to the other one.

This is the nice one.

If you're out walking or riding on the paved roads that cut across the fields, you'd better be on the lookout for these road-hogs.

Here's the reason we were out on our bikes, dodging the road hogs that afternoon: foraged sloes and rose hips! We had our first frost the night before, so it was a good time to pick. I'll be getting more soon!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Real School

As a devoted, ardent Anglophile, I'd love to have slightly easier access to England. Yes, I know I'm comparatively close, but it's no simple thing just to hop over from Germany on a weekend--it's possible, but unlikely for several reasons, financial and otherwise. Anyway, I think it would be pretty cool to be able to attend the occasional workshop at River Cottage (even the males in my family go gaga when they watch Hugh cook).

There are also wonderful-sounding classes at brilliant Alain de Botton's The School of Life, in London. How to Spend Time Alone, Words for Life, Dinner with Virginia Wolfe? Sign me up! Of course, there are many and varied reasons for going to England; these are just two life-skills-related ones that popped into my head this afternoon, when Monica's post touching on the concept of bibliotherapy reminded me that The School of Life actually employs bibliotherapists. Could bibliotherapist just possibly be one of the coolest jobs ever?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Magazine Love: A Shot of Green

It's starting to turn chilly here now, after a few fits and starts over the past several weeks.

But just before all thoughts of color turn toward oranges, browns, reds, and yellows, let's behold the green glories of the holiday home (I think?) of Helma Bongenaar and her family, in Amsterdam. When I caught a glimpse of this wonderful house, I had to buy the August 2010 issue of Vtwonen right away. I've been meaning to share this feature here for a while.

I especially love the kitchen, of course!

It's all so vintagey-gorgeous! Hope you like it as much as I do. Now, Autumn--full speed ahead!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Today's Tiny Harvest

We're nearing the end of our summer grape-tomato harvest. I also decided to bring in some more lemon balm and thyme to dry, as I have a ton of both. Like my colander? It's a Japanese rice-rinser/strainer--hence the pouring spout and tiny holes on the bottom (which you can't see in this photo). Real Japanese rice needs to be rinsed before it's cooked, in case you didn't know.

We'll be doing a bit of fall planting in our little raised beds this weekend. What are you growing in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nettles Aplenty

One of the most ab-fab things about our village is that we have these wonderful paths for walking and biking (well, they're pretty nice for farmers and all of their equipment, too). This one runs behind our house.

Remember how I was talking about borage recently? Another wild plant growing in insane abundance around here is stinging nettles, and I found a perfect patch flourishing alongside this path.

As you can see, I had thought to bring my colander, scissors, and the all-important gloves. I'm new to using nettles, but I've been doing some research, and with the new fall crop so handy, I thought it was a great time to do some harvesting.

I'd been out solo that day, but a couple of days later, The Husband and I headed by bike into the forest that begins just down our street.

Of course, we spotted loads of nettles, and I (necessary supplies in tow again) had to stop for more. This patch wasn't as fresh-looking--I can afford to be picky--but I still snagged enough for two nice cups of tea that evening. The Husband is usually willing to try my foraged concoctions as long as he feels certain I'm not trying to poison him; The Boy, who needed the tea due to a cough, is a tougher sell. After repeated urging, though, I think he drank most of his. He hadn't keeled over from the potato and nettle soup I'd served the night before...

For a fantastic array of info on using nettles, go here.
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