Sunday, August 30, 2009

German music

I won't pretend that I usually like German music. Most of the music I hear on the radio is American (or at least popular in America also). The German music is usually very pop sounding, which I am not fond of.

However, when I first heard this song at the Munich wedding I attended recently, I had to buy it. All of the Germans seemed to know it and sang along eagerly. The song is called "Ein Kompliment" and it is sang by a very good German band called Sportfreunde Stiller. Now it can be your favorite song! How can you not love a song that sings about the "foam crown on the wave of enthusiasm?"

Here are the German lyrics.

Wenn man so will , bist du das Ziel einer langen Reise ,
die Perfektion der Besten Art und Weise ,
in Stillen Momenten leise,
die Schaumkrone , der Woge der Begeisterung,
Bergauf , mein Antrieb und Schwung

Ich wollte dir nur mal eben sagen,
dass du das Grösste für mich bist,
und sichergehn ob du denn das selbe für mich fühlst,für mich fühlst.

Wenn man so will bist du meine Chill-Out Area,
meine Feiertage in jedem Jahr,
meine Süsswarenabteilung im Supermarkt,
die Lösung wenn mal was hakt,
so wertvoll , dass man es sich gerne auf spart,
und so schön , dasss man nie darauf verzichten mag,

Ich wollte dir nur mal eben sagen,
dass du das Grösste für mich bist ,
und sicheregehen ob du denn das selbe für mich fühlst,
für mich fühlst!

Here are the lyrics roughly translated into English. (some of it very rough -please correct me if you can!)

If one so wants, you are the goal of a long journey, the perfection in the best way, in quiet moments, the foam crown of the wave of the enthusiasm, my uphill, my drive and my momentum

I just wanted to say to you at times, that you are the one for me. And it goes
reliably, whether you feel the same for me, feel the same for me.

If one so wants, you are my Chill Out AREA,
my holidays in each year, my candy section in the supermarket, the solution, when times hooks, so valuable that one in itself gladly do a part, and so beautifully that one may never do without it. (? I am not sure I get this part)

I just wanted to say to you at times, that you are the one for me. And it goes
reliably, whether you feel the same for me, feel the same for me.

I just wanted to say to you at times, that you are the one for me. And it goes
reliably, whether you feel the same for me, feel the same for me.

Any other recommendations for German music out there?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Funny Foto Freitag

One thing that my I didn't-know-I-was-prudish American self had to get used to seeing was the frequency of nekkid sunbathers on sunny days, usually around lakes and in parks.

However, during my sister's visit last week, we visited a cemetery that had a remnant of the Berlin Wall.

What does this have to do with (almost) naked sunbathers?

Yes, those are headstones (Grabstein) around him.

Bring out 'yer dead!

As usual, if you want to play along, please leave leave a comment for me in the comment section.

  1. You are first!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Delicious & Easy Lunch

I have been trying to eat more vegetarian and expand my grain consumption (besides couscous) and found this delicious recipe which is easily modifiable. This is incredibly easy and quick. All ingredients can be found at normal grocery stores or at turkish stores. The best pita I found was at my local turkish store although I even found pida at Plus/Netto (though I can't vouch for how good it was). The bulgur was found in the Bio section of my normal grocery store although it was not labeled Bio.

Here is my modified recipe below. You can use parsley, cilantro or even basil for the mint. I left out the red onion due to my son's aversion to the onion taste. This is definitely toddler approved! Enjoy! It tastes even better the next day!

Bulgur Salad with chickpeas and roasted red peppers

1 1/2 cups fine-grain bulgur
3 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper
a few black olives sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 or 5 drained jarred roasted red peppers, diced (about 1 -1/1/2 cups)
1/4 cup minced fresh mint
splash of red wine vinegar
~3 TBSP toasted pine nuts
1 medium head Bibb lettuce, leaves separated

4 pita breads, warmed and cut into wedges


1. Place the bulgur in a large bowl. Add the boiling water and set aside, stirring occasionally, until the bulgur has softened, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the bulgur, shaking the strainer and gently pressing out excess moisture. Return the bulgur to the bowl.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the lemon juice, honey, cumin, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in a small bowl. Whisk in the oil until the dressing is smooth.

3. Heat a pan to medium (no oil). Throw pine nuts in and shake pan every 10 seconds until golden. This only takes 1-2 min. Toasted pine nuts have a distinctive wonderful smell.

4. Add the chickpeas, roasted peppers, olives, pine nuts and mint to the bowl with the drained bulgur and stir to combine. Drizzle the dressing and a splash of vinegar over the bulgur mixture and toss to combine.

5. Line each individual plate with several lettuce leaves. Mound some bulgur salad over the lettuce and tuck some pita wedges into the salad at several places around the plate. Serve.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Funny Foto Freitag - special heat edition

With the heat wave that swept most of Germany yesterday, (Berlin was 32C or 90 F!), I am sure most of you wanted to sit back and drink some delicious fruity beer. A Radler maybe? (sparkling lemonade or Sprite/7-Up and beer-don't knock it till you try it!)

Well, here is what I found while perusing the beer section.

Yes folks, that is banana and beer. together. I wonder if this makes any Germans still upset about the recent appeal of the Reinheitsgebot or Germany Beer Purity Law from 1516.

Still thirsty? (And no my minions, I will not try this-not even for you!)

As usual, if you folks want to play along, please leave me a comment in the comment section below!

Other Contributors:
  1. Fiona @ Living the land of chocolate shows us some princess jewels a bit inappropriately labeled!

What to bring to Germany Part II

Are you moving to Germany? Since my first post on this failed and I ended up just confusing everyone, I thought I would try this again after a conversation recently with some other expats including the lovely Snooker.

First, I will qualify this by saying that you can find almost everything in Germany. I myself moved here with my son and hubby and 6 suitcases. We didn't bring anything else over. We tried to adapt as much as possible.

I know that we can substitute and often find things that are better. Contact lens solution was one thing I found that I love here and is a bit cheaper. (I use the DM generic brand) However, we are on a budget, we both work and take care of a little one. Sometimes, we don't feel very "adventurous."

And once in awhile, I just want to be comforted by things that I am familiar with especially when I am sick. I am living in a country where many things are unfamiliar to me not at the least, the language.

Here is my new and improved list after one year of living that I have not found suitable substitutions for. Please remember folks, I am in Berlin with no car. I don't have access to stores like Real or Kaufland (and most of the time, I am glad that I don't!)
  1. Drugs - No, not that kind my silly readers (that is plentiful here as far as I have smelled!) Tylenol, NyQuil, Ibuprofen, Sudafed and even things like witch hazel (hydrogen peroxide) and isopropyl alcohol are not to be found here as easily or as cheaply. To give you an example, I recently had emergency but minor surgery which left me in enormous pain. They gave me 6 Paracetamol (tylenol for the NA folks reading) and told me I could get more from my Dr if I needed them. I usually refrain from using medicine (unlike a lot of American stereotypes) but I really wanted to be able to sleep fairly pain free. I don't even think the dosage was as strong as the OTC in the US.
  2. Baking Powder - they sell backpulver here but it doesn't work the same as the double reactive baking powder found in North America. You can add more but eventually your food items begin tasting more like backpulver and don't ever achieve that wonderful fluffiness we love. You can find baking soda (Natriumbicarbonat or Natron) here but they sell it in small packets instead of big boxes.
  3. Chocolate Chips - You can occasionally find a small 2 oz bag of Schokolade Tropfen that cost an arm and a leg but unless you want to chop up chocolate by yourself, you will be choco chip cookieless for your time here.
  4. Fig cookies. Ok, so maybe you aren't a big fan of these as I am (My name is Yelli and I am addicted) but you can not find them anywhere. (PCC had the most delicious whole wheat fig cookies-Yummy!)
  5. Pillows - see my post here to see what monstrosities-they-call-pillows one is most likely to find here. If you can't deal with these, BYOP.
  6. Craft supplies - If you like to do crafts with kids or just yourself, it can be quite difficult to find even simple things like pipe cleaners chenille strips, googly eyes, wax paper, felt etc...
  7. Vanilla - You can make your own (vanilla beans are super cheap on but it takes while so bring a few small bottles to tie you over.
  8. Hot sauce - 'nuff said
  9. BBQ sauce - I have seen Jack Daniel's BBQ sauce here a few times but if you like BBQ sauce without high fructose syrup in it, bring your own!
  10. Calender - If you are like me and can't remember US holidays, bring a calender with you. We made a calender at Snapfish and put pictures of our family members on there as well.
  11. Clothes especially Jeans - I have not had much luck finding jeans that fit me as well as the jeans brand I like in the States. Also, if you are going to end up buying American brand jeans anyways, (i.e. Levis) prepare for sticker shock. The H & M jeans I found fell apart after a few weeks so I also do not recommend buying poor quality jeans here as a substitute. I have to admit, it really annoys me to pay 3X more for cheap clothes that fall apart.
  12. measuring spoons - I am now a digital scale convert instead of measuring cups so I didn't bother to put those on the list but I do occasionally use my old recipes and measuring spoons are invaluable to me.
  13. pie pans - you can't find pie pans here. There isn't even really a word to translate the word pie and the Germans think you are nuts when you try to describe it to them. They do however, eat them up as fast as you can make them!
  14. English books and movies - You can find them here in Berlin and I am sure elsewhere. St. George's will order almost anything for you but again, they are expensive. also has a good selection. In addition, if you plan on watching German or British movies, remember that they are a different region code than the US and will not play unless you have a region free DVD player (including laptops)
  15. Specialty spices - taco seasoning (which you can make), cream of tartar, etc. If you think it is strange, bring it along!
  16. Ceaser Salad Dressing - I don't know if I recommend bringing this over but I certainly have not found this dinner staple of mine. in Germany anywhere.
"You adapt. You innovate. You overcome diversity."
- unknown author

Anything important I miss?

Stay tuned for what NOT to bring when moving to Germany...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Idiot Tax

The Scientist and I sometimes joke about something we call "The Idiot Tax." We have paid the idiot tax more times than I can count here in Germany and maybe by writing this post, I can help poor unfortunate expats like yourself (or those planning on being expats) avoid this.

The idiot tax happens when you pay extra for something that you don't need to pay extra for. Of course this can happen in your own country but but I can assure you that is was less often. Since I don't have the luck to have married a German, we bungle through this society together with only colleagues and friends to ask.

Let me give you some examples. I am sure I can come up with many more but in preservation of my fragile ego, I will give you a few that either I or other expat friends have paid for.

For example, what does this clean?

Did you guess laundry detergent whitener? This is actually a curtain cleaner and not meant to be put on clothes at all. This is what happens when you forget your German-English dictionary at home when you go shopping. An expat friend of mine bought this and asked me later if I needed any curtain cleaner as she couldn't use it. Neither of us have white curtains. :)

The idiot tax can come in all forms. Recently, our washing machine broke. We have a guarantee on it but some little munchkin must have put some change (a pfennig actually!) in his pants that I didn't catch.

There were all sorts of broken parts that we had to pay for. After I paid the repairmen 55 Euros, I just realized that I have no idea if I was being scammed or not. I must admit I don't know anything about fixing washing machines much less in German.

In my home country, I would at least know how to read the very technical washing machine manual or look at the Internet for our washing machine model or even call a technical friend to look at it or even find a cheap store where they might sell parts. I know where the boundaries are when repairmen completely miss appointments!

Here, I just acted as though I would normally act. I did call the shop and ask them pointedly why no one showed up but I didn't get a good answer. I even got to use a good "Das ist Quatsch!" (That is a crock!)

Was that acceptable? I don't know but I know I probably could have saved myself a good 55 euros!

I could go on and will probably post more Idiot Tax stories but just know, if you intend oin moving to a foreign country, make sure you save enough for the Idiot Tax!

Have you paid the idiot tax?

Monday, August 17, 2009

How to blend in...

My favorite thing a German has said to me so far:

"Oh, you're American! I love Americans. They wear jogging pants & flip flops everywhere but they smell so nice and have such nice white teeth - very hygienic."

She then asked me to name my favorite smelly lotion stores. I will give her the dental card but lotion stores? People give me lotion for Christmas who don't know me very well. I probably still have some "Raspberry Reluctance" or "Thin Mint Passion" somwhere. I don't have anything against (midnight) pomegranates or oatmeal cookies and I have never personally wanted to smell like them but they even have scents for these too. Unless they start selling magic smelly hiking lotion that bugs aren't attracted too, I am not interested.

I am not claiming I don't ever use these products or even occasionally secretly enjoy them but my reasons might be another blog post in itself.

I will admit it does seem rather easy for me to pick Americans out of the crowds of tourists here in Berlin (but not usually by their smell.) Baseball caps, baggy shorts, flip flops, & white tennis shoes. Louder than normal voices. I doubt I always blend in. I am, much to my chagrin, still a product of my culture.

However, being in such a large city, one of my favorite things to do is play "Guess the Origin of the Tourist?" when my Ipod battieries are run out which is almost always I forget my Ipod. I can even pick German tourists out now when I am on vacation. Look for "the paw." (They will deny this and even claim this isn't a German company but don't believe them)

I was chatting with a British and German friend the other day and they both admitted to being embarrassed by their own respective tourists.

The funny thing is we probably miss those who do blend in.

My point being here that blend in as much as you can if you are a tourist but if you can't, don't worry. If you live here, one should probably make more of a consorted effort to "when in Rome, do as the Romans do."

If, however, you want to blend in with Germans, here are some pointers.
  1. If you are female, wear skirts.
  2. If you are male, manpris are totally in!
  3. Don't try so hard to match your bag to your socks to your belt to your necklace. Germans don't care so why should you?
  4. Flip flops are completely out unless you are 17.
  5. Naked kids on beach = acceptable
  6. Naked people on beach/grass/park = acceptable (Don't stare!)
  7. Wear a scarf. It doesn't matter what color. The way you tie it, however, does matter.
  8. If you are a little boy, wool tights are a mandatory winter clothing item.
Anything I missed?

Maybe this should have gone with the Random Tuesday Thoughts! ☺

Unplug Your Kids - Pocket Paper Plate Frogs

We haven't recently participated in Unplug Your Kids for awhile due to many things notwithstanding Unplug's recent French vacation and the beautiful weather that leaves Mommy and Baby Bird with the complete inability to do anything inside when the weather is beautiful. Since we had a couple of hours left over last night after swimming all day, (read exhausted) we decided it is time to get back in the swing! This week's theme was pocket.

I bookmarked these adorable pocket frogs awhile ago and decided with all of the recent frog sightings we have had, this would be a great project.

I got the idea from a couple of websites here and here. We then just modified as we saw fit and according to what supplies we had.

Paint one side of a paper plate green.

Flip to the other side after letting the first side dry. We let Baby Bird decide what the color of inside the mouth was. He chose black.

Then we painted the eyes. I used green egg cartons which are common here.

We painted them white and then told him to make a black speck in the middle.

The Scientist helped attach the eyes with tape since we don't have a glue gun here nor would we know how to find one.

We aren't done yet Baby Bird! It needs a nice froggie tongue!

To attach the froggie tongue, we used a white strip of paper colored red with crayon and attached a chenille strip underneath with tape. I think a Popsicle stick would work well but I also have not found these at a craft store yet. And I never think of saving them when we occasionally indulge. :)

Me: Baby Bird-what does your frog say?
Baby Bird: I have a long tongue - ribbit!

We attempted to sing the following song but Baby Bird just used his frog to eat things. If your child is more cooperative, we sang this to the tune of 5 little Ducks.

Five Green and Speckled Frogs

Five green and speckled frogs, sat on a speckled log, eating some most delicious bugs.

One jumped into the pool, where it was nice and cool, now there are four green & speckled frogs.

Four green and speckled frogs…….now there are three green speckled frogs.

For other projects around the theme pocket, please check out Unplug Your Kids!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Funny Foto Freitag

On our whirlwind trip to the UK, we ended up in Edinburgh and visited our Scientist Family Doppelgangers in Scotland. They took us to a wonderful gem called The Scottish Seabird Centre. (more on this later) As we were walking by, we saw this dog topiary that the kids really enjoyed. Baby Bird even barked at it.

Then, if you happen to be curious how they made this plant dog, they thoughtfully provided directions. You know, just in case you had a pen and paper laying around and could take notes so you too could have your very own dog plant topiary in your yard or balcony. Just let me know if you need a better quality picture in case you also need directions. :)

If you want to play along, leave me a message in the comments. Happy Foto Freitag!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

And you thought the US campaigns were bad?

Speaking of poor taste in political ads, this ad is currently being run in Berlin by a CDU (Christian Democratic) conservative candidate. It says (roughly translated) "We have more to offer" which is running across a controversial photograph of Angela Merkel from a recent night out at the Opera. (controversial because of the plunging neckline)

original source: SZ online

So I ask, will the Berliners be persuaded by "who has more to offer?" Stay tuned until Sept. 27th when voters will decide which breasts candidates are better.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm Back!

After a trip to Munich for a wedding, home for a couple of days and then off on a whirlwind trip around the UK with my parents and my sis, we are finally home!

Of course, I have been home for a few days but Baby Bird decided to play Dare Devil on some playground equipment and has been limping around which means no time for Mommy to blog...

I have a lot to blog about but there is only one reason for my post today.

Happy Birthday Dad! We miss you!!!!!

taken at the Edinburgh Castle Cannon