We’re an American family living just outside of Bitburg, in the scenic but often-damp Eifel countryside of far-western Germany. We got the crazy notion to buy a haus here, and even though it’s not the renovated barn/carriage house/crumbling country manor of our dreams, it’s pretty cool—when the plumbing and heating are working properly. When we aren’t traveling, we live a pretty quiet life. Stop by for frequent doses of Gemütlichkeit, which just basically means a sense of coziness and intimacy--and an unhurried pace to counter the frenetic nature of modern life. Doctor's orders! Oh, and a special hello to anyone visiting from the Spangdahlem Air Base community!
If you appreciate and embrace global style as much as I do, I think you'll enjoy the first online magazine of Once Upon a Tea Time, a global interiors blog I've been following for several years. Due to great feedback so far, the magazine, which was designed to be a one-off, will become a monthly. Yay! Have a look and let me know what you think. If you love it, you may want to add Gypsy, the latest book by Sibella Court to your wish list. I'm such a fan of her styling, and I own two of her previous books.
Have a great day! And seriously, German Christmas markets are indeed on the agenda here!
Hope you don't mind my catching up a bit on last month before I get to the happenings of December. One day before Thanksgiving, we woke up to this scene. The snow had melted by early afternoon, but that's just fine, as we know we'll be getting more soon enough!
After our drinks, the owner, Guido, decanted some olive oil, walnut oil, and apricot vinegar for us. We love that he gets the finest oils and vinegars in his shop, displays them beautifully in glass, then makes recommendations and allows tastings before you make your choices and have them bottled. I used some of the walnut oil in the celery-date-walnut salad I've made for the past five or six Thanksgivings.
The following Friday, Husband and I drove to a fancy mall in Luxembourg City to visit a Cora Hypermarché (large, very overwhelming grocery store). Our main purpose for driving an hour each way for groceries? Husband is mad this year for moules (mussels), and after recently figuring out how to prepare and cook them ourselves, we've had them several times. The next time we had mussels, we were fortunately able to buy them locally. Above is our third effort, Thai Red Curry Mussels. So good.
Note the gray skies. When the weather was dry enough, the Boy shot baskets at a kindergarten playground. He's getting so strong.
On chillier evenings, we got the wood stove fired up. I do love it, even when it's not really cold enough in the house to get it going! Our home, built in the 1990s (not 1890s), isn't drafty at all.
Oddly, I didn't get a single photo on Thanksgiving this year.
Oh, wait--Husband did. Here's the ham he smoked, which was fantastic. Ever since we bought this Brinkman smoker over the summer, he's been a smokin' fool. It was the first time in ages that we haven't hosted on Thanksgiving, but we and another family still managed to eat ourselves silly in the home of some good friends a few villages over.
Coming up: oh, yes: it's time for German Christmas markets!
It's possible that I am ever-so-slightly just a tiny bit obsessed with Paris-based chef Rachel Khoo. This is a trailer for her second cookbook, My Little French Kitchen. Ever since I spotted her first cookbook, The Little Paris Kitchen, in a shop window in Ireland last year, I knew I'd have to buy it and also find out more about this chef, who is clearly vintage-quirky adorable and also really good at making the preparation of French food seem quite accessible, even in the tiniest of kitchens.
Elle a Table, March 2013
I somehow missed her BBC series named after that first book (sheesh, the names of the two books are awfully similar!), but I was able to catch a couple of episodes during a flight last summer. For twelve video clips from this series, visit YouTube.
Then there's Mimi Thorisson, who writes the blog Manger.
Glow Magazine/ Greece December 2012
She's all glamorous and Gypset, but she lives in the French countryside with a bunch of kids and animals (oh, and her photographer husband). She cooks and eats great food and throws fantastic parties.
Just look at her, making that tarte tatin in those heels! These two women live very different lives, but I'm thinking they both rock the Fairytale lifestyle. I know, I'm sounding all girl-crushy--but these women are just cool! Don't you think so?
Why am I so taken with it? Well, I love that these creative people seem to be living exactly the way they want, doing what they want to do. They live a home-based life, which I admire, and they appear to get along with each other really well. And I love that they surround themselves with beautiful things--not expensive things, but items that often have great personal meaning to them.
I sometimes like to look around my home--in any particular room, or two--and call up memories of where and when I got many of the things my eye falls upon (there's plenty to see--I could never be a minimalist!). I'm looking at one shelf now, and I see items from South Korea, Malaysia, mainland Japan, Okinawa, Hong Kong, Panama, Germany, England, and Ireland. I have these things because I truly like them, and they remind my of my travels (though a couple of the items were gifts from friends). The only thing there that I could remotely call "expensive" is the lamp from Hong Kong.
But of course, it's not necessary to travel abroad to build your own collection of tangible memories--you'll see this in the Sullivans' video. It's about having things that you love around you--not so you can show them off to others, but because they make you happy. Isn't that the best kind of "decorating"?
Have I ever mentioned here how much I love British TV? Hmmm, I probably have. I've been a big fan since high school, when I'd run into the living room and flip the channels on our chunky console TV, hoping to catch whatever might quench my Anglophilic thirst on our local PBS affiliate in northwest Louisiana. These days, I'm so glad to have digital tv providers that give me the option of watching many of the shows I love best.
British mysteries tend to be at the top of my list, but I have plenty of syndicated and new comedy faves, and I wouldn't dream of missing certain dramas, such as Downton Abbey (but don't dare talk to me about what's happening right now, as I'm still a season behind!).
Something about British television mysteries--the production values, the writing and the pacing, the set direction--tends to pull me in quite often. Though I think the U.S. does an outstanding job at dramas in general (I'll save that for another time), true mystery series aren't so much a forté.
Here are some really wonderful British mysteries that are now airing, or that have recently aired: Foyle's War, Midsomer Murders, Lewis, The Bletchley Circle miniseries, Vera, DCI Banks, and Sherlock.
Midsomer Murders, for whenever I want a charming country-house fix, which is quite often!
And I have to add some "vintage" loves: Inspector Morse, A Touch of Frost, Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Campion, The Last Detective, Rosemary & Thyme, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, and just about all of the Miss Marple, Poirot, and Sherlock Holmes stories.
Ah, my beloved Inspector Morse (John Thaw) and his loyal sidekick and friend, Lewis (Kevin Whately)
I'm guessing I've left out some good ones accidentally. Perhaps I'm a bit obsessed, but I'm thinking there are worse things in life.
Do you enjoy some of these shows, too, and are there any more you would add?
Well, hello! We've been back in Germany for about a month now, after getting First Child settled in on campus at her university in Arkansas (sniff, sniff!). Before settling back into a routine here, we made a day-trip to the delightful little town of Monschau, about an hour and a half from us in our Eifel region of Germany. In between rain showers, I had fun taking photos on my iPad of our eating mustard soup, seeing pretty flowers and cute dogs, and just wandering the streets of the Old Town. We have absolutely no idea why we'd never visited before, but we do know we'll be back.
Enjoying great coffee, olive oils, and vinegars in our little downtown. Watching both kids play soccer in a European tournament (Daughter in the familiar posture of giving a teammate a pre-match hug). Day-tripping to Düsseldorf (Japantown!), Köln, and Nancy, mother-in-law in tow. Frolicking in the back yard with friends, on a rare (this year) sunny day. Having drinks outside a small castle nearby. Attending Daughter's Baccalaureate Ceremony last week. Hugging, laughing, and crying at graduation on Saturday. It's been a full, eventful Spring. We're heading to the States next week, for a full two months this year. I wish you a most happy summer, and I'll try not to be a stranger until we return!
Yes, it's that time again (or it was a couple of weeks ago--as usual, I'm a bit late in posting). Have a look at a bit of the craziness of a small-town Fasching parade:
The uncharacteristic moments of sunlight gave me a bit of trouble with the photography. Mind you, it was absolutely freezing as well. But we got a fair amount of candy, thanks in large part to The Girl, who is fearless at leaping for anything thrown in our direction, and even walking right up to someone on a float handing out free (full-sized!) tubes of foot lotion. I got hit on top of the head HARD by a flying Snickers bar, but no one cared, and I ate it later. Adult-sized garden gnomes, walking Euros, questionable logos, a soccer team dressed as Native Americans, and a haul of hard candy we'll never eat--fun times!
I know what you're thinking. "Hey, Hausfrau, it's the first of February, but these photos look as if they were taken in December. In fact, those last two seem to have been taken at a Christmas market."
Sadly, you would be correct. These were taken on a pre-Christmas day-trip with good friends. They'd never visited this lovely city a couple of hours away, full as it is of Art Nouveau architectural details and loads of delicious Quiche Lorraine. We had fun meandering, eating and drinking, and letting The Husband ask for directions (go figure--I can speak French while he cannot).
Despite the cute shops and gorgeous Place Stanislas (considered one of the most beautiful city squares in Europe), never go to Nancy for its Christmas market. Go somewhere else--anywhere.
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