Category archives: expatlife

Thanksgiving in Berlin

At the last minute I decided a year without hosting a Thanksgiving dinner was just plain sad, and I am so glad I changed my mind.  I am not a big meat eater, and the thought of cooking the whole bird is daunting, so once again we had braised turkey thighs.  My lack of planning ahead meant I had to spend several hours on Friday morning trying to hunt down turkey legs- which surprisingly are not easy to find in Berlin.  Everywhere I went and called said they would be happy to order it for me- to be ready next week.  :-|  Fortunately Rogacki saved the day and had exactly what I needed.   It is always so fun to celebrate with fellow Americans (and Canadian, my friend Alex joined us this year), but my favorite part is sharing the holiday and a bit of American culture with German friends, most of whom have never experienced Thanksgiving.  And hooray for lovely friends to celebrate with and to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving in BerlinThanksgiving in BerlinThanksgiving in Berlin Thanksgiving in BerlinThanksgiving in Berlin

Thanksgiving in Berlin

Someone was REAL pissed to have to stay on the couch while we had dinner, but she was loving the attention from all her new friends. She really is the most spoiled pup, ever. :)

I hope my American friends all had a lovely Thanksgiving, where ever you are!  Now the holiday season has officially begun :) the Christmas Markets in Berlin open today!

Giving Thanks

Here is one sweet little face I am thankful for.  I hope all my American friends have a wonderful Thanksgiving where ever you are celebrating this year.  While being away from home at Thanksgiving always has me feeling a bit homesick, this will be my sixth Thanksgiving abroad and I have grown quite fond of sharing the holiday with friends here in Germany (and usually making it as non-traditional as possible- one year my Italian friend made lasagna and last year we served Russian borscht).  This weekend, I am looking forward to lots of skype calls with family and friends and celebrating with a big Thanksgiving feast on Saturday.  AND something else I am really looking forward to?  Flying home to California in 23 days!!

Last year I made a list of some of the things in my life I was especially thankful for, and this year I am continually counting my blessings.  I want to say a huge thank you to all of you lovely blog readers and friends who have supported me as I took a big leap of faith into the freelancing world.  It was absolutely terrifying at first, starting a business in a foreign country, but it has been six months of hard work and a LOT of fun.  I really do have the best job (and clients) in the world.  Happy Thanksgiving!  How are you celebrating and what are you thankful for this year?

4 Years

Last week marked 4 years since my arrival in Germany.  Time which feels to have flown by at the speed of light, although at the same time my life before I moved here also feels so long ago.  Living abroad has brought me so many wonderful things: meeting the man I now call my husband, new friends, Miss Hazel Blue, travels throughout Europe, a reignited passion for my photography work, a new language…  But it also has so many challenges: being SO far from people you love, losing touch with friends back home, missing big, important events in the lives of family and friends.   Both lists go on and on.  As much as I love this country and this crazy city I call home, part of me always is back home in California.  This strange sense of feeling conflicted can be so confusing, and after long conversations with fellow expat friends, it is nice to know that we all seem to feel that way.  It seems the easy answer to all my worries is to find a way to split my time between California and Berlin, although financially and logistically, I am still sorting out how to make that a reality.  Anyone want to help me figure that out?

This image was taken from my old office window a few days after I arrived in the Black Forest.  My first home in Germany was in a teeny tiny farm village on the Rhine river, where I spent a month living in a basement apartment and the air in the town was stained with manure from the freshly fertilized crops.  Needless to say, it was not exactly the warmest of welcomes, but I did find an amazing flammkuchen restaurant in this tiny village which won me over (and I quickly found my own apartment in a neighboring city), and slowly but surely I fell in love with Germany.

expat bloggers + lunch

image by LindseyRebecca, Anne, Rubi, Alex, Brittany, Emily, Moi & Lindsey– not pictured: Anthony (who took this photo) & Bryan

This weekend was amazing for MANY reasons.  Now that it is all over I am feeling incredibly inspired and motivated, but more importantly so thankful for the amazing bloggers I finally got the chance to meet in person.  Emily suggested the idea of an Expat-Blogger Lunch before the Hive Conference started and naturally I waited until last week to find a place to host it, but luckily I found a great little restaurant on Linienstraße in Mitte.  Lokal had been on my “restaurants to try list” for ages and the long tables and gorgeous window light were the perfect fit, on top of having organic, modern German food.  It also seems fitting that they use a blog as their website ;)  Would it sound totally crazy if I told you that it felt like I already knew some of these girls even though we had never met before?  All of them were even more lovely than I had imagined and SO creative and inspiring!  I have really needed a bit of a push lately to get myself on track creatively and this weekend and the support of my incredibly supportive blog friends was exactly what I needed.  Stay tuned for a post about the Hive Conference (which is the reason everyone was in town)- there is LOTS more to share from the weekend!

road trip to Luxembourg

When my dad told me he had business meetings in Luxembourg during their time here in Europe I quickly figured out a way to join him, because: a) I have never been to Luxembourg and even though I knew next-to-nothing about the tiny country it sounded interesting and b) I love road trips and find any and every excuse to see more of Europe.
My mama, Andreas and me drove to meet up with my dad after his business meetings and of course since I took the day off from work to explore the city, it was nasty, cold and rainy, but we still had fun despite the weather.  Apparently Luxembourg City has the world’s largest crèche but we instead decided to spend our afternoon huddling by the outdoor heaters drinking glühwein and eating crepes at the Christmas Market.  Our our way back home, we drove to the little village where my dad lived back in the 60’s near the Luxembourg/German border outside of Bitburg.  The house he lived in for three years was still there and it was great fun to hear about how much had changed and his adventures learning German at the local pub.  He is convinced the German language is really not that easy to learn… and I am convinced he is crazy.
I found the mix of languages in Luxembourg fascinating-  I heard and saw a mix of French, German and English as well as Luxembourgish which seemed to be a comboination of Dutch and German.  It was a trip hearing so many different languages being spoken, I am always amazed by people who can effortlessly switch between multiple languages in a conversation.  For now I am just trying to speak two… and that is hard enough for me :(  One not so good thing I have noticed living abroad?   I see my English skills (esp. my grammar) are slowly getting worse, which is terrifying (and embarrassing).  Does anyone else have that problem from speaking with mostly non-native English speakers?  Surely no one’s fault but my own, but just another reason why I would need to (& would like to) speak more german!

2011 in photos

I am posting this about a week late, but I had a great time looking through photos from the last year and thought I would share them.  Be warned, this is a very photo-heavy post.  Although I am sure you are probably used to them around here :)

We rang in 2011 with Travis Jay and Randall eating WAY too much delicious food and champagne in Santa Barbara.  Intimate New Year’s celebrations are my absolute fave.

We gave Andreas a proper (and very short) tour of Los Angeles

sent out our save the dates

traveled to Berlin to photograph a story for Matchbook Magazine’s second issue
< celebrated Andreas's 29th birthday in Karlsruhe watching fußball
spent a few lazy afternoons by the river in Strasbourg

took lots and lots of bike rides

sold my car and bought a VESPA!

went to Messdi and drank some schnapps

visited Istanbul and fell in love with the city (again) and wrote a travel story for Matchbook Magazine

we spent our summer exploring new lakes and appreciating our gorgeous region

went to Paris to celebrate Nica & Didier’s wedding

went to Santa Barbara to celebrate Travis and Randall’s wedding.  this was right before I gave my maid of honor speech…. on a stage in front of 150 people.  so so nervous.

I photographed my dear friend Kala’s new baby, Elaia.  She was one week old :)

my girlfriends in San Francisco surprised me with a bachelorette party on a boat!

we fell head over heels for Emmy Lou

watched the Giants crush the Dodgers

enjoyed the glory of summer in the Black Forest.  Late evening swims with our niece and nephew

went to the Titisee for my birthday

we got MARRIED!

explored Provincetown

relished in newlywed bliss

made our annual Faux-giving

freezed in Munich visiting Mary for her birthday.

celebrated our first Christmas together in Germany.  and then moved across the country.

all in all, 2011 was pretty amazing… but I think 2012 might be even better :)

Hope 2012 is off to a great start for you too!

thanksgiving

– Cooking is way more fun with bubbles
– We sent our men to the grocery store to pick up a few items and they come home with 3 of everything on the list.  silly boys.
– bride and groom tea towel from my mama
– our men
– nica’s stuffing with a whole lotta butter
– braised turkey thighs have become an expat-thanksgiving tradition.  Cooking a whole bird scares me & they are impossible to find around here.  After 4 years, my German friends think the turkey thighs are a normal part of thanksgiving dinner ;)

Sadly no photos from the finished meal, but I guarantee it was quite a feast.

Just a few silly snaps from our preparations for the second thanksgiving of the week. That’s right, this year we had two thanksgivings.  As someone who almost never eats meat, I definitely got my fill of turkey for the year after last week, and now I am CRAVING vegetables.  The first thanksgiving was spent with an old friend of mine from elementary school who was traveling around Europe with her boyfriend, and invited us to dinner with their friends in Stuttgart.  Our friends Nica and Didier came out from Paris to cook up a giant second Thanksgiving feast for some German friends and in the process we made a huge mess in our little ikea kitchen.  I cannot wait to have an apartment with a dishwasher and kitchen where I don’t have to use the top of the washing machine as counter space.  One more month!!

I realized this was my fifth Thanksgiving living abroad, and even though we had double the thanksgivings, I couldn’t help but feel really homesick this year.  Creating new traditions abroad definitely help, but all the facebook posts of my friends and family back in California together celebrating made me miss them all like crazy.  At least my parents will be here in less than 3 weeks!  I think they might have to fill an entire suitcase with stuff for me and the boy, I might have gone a little overboard buying new winter clothes because I am convinced I will freeze in Berlin.

I hope all of you had a lovely weekend and my American friends enjoyed the holiday!

thankful

Lately I have been feeling so incredibly blessed.  With today being Thanksgiving in my homeland, I thought I would share a little list of a few of the many things I am feeling thankful for right now:

my parents coming to visit in 21 days to celebrate the Christmas with us, which will make my first ever Christmas away from California, since we moved there 22 years ago, SO much better.  (although I will probably still cry without my friends)

our new apartment has a dishwasher AND an enormous kitchen

yogaglo.com  starting my morning off with a yoga class makes for much better days.

the Christmas markets have started!  obviously december is my favorite time of year for this reason alone (oh and maybe also because of a little thing called Christmas)

having friends who make the distance between us seem not so great.  even though we don’t get to see each other or talk as much as we used to, they make the effort to stay a big part of my life.

having TWO thanksgivings this year, or as we have named the expat-thanksgiving, Faux-giving, since we never have all the right ingredients and have now made our own rules.  and traditions.

christmas music.  because it makes Andreas oh so happy.  which makes my heart swell.

finishing a good book, even if it made me cry.  Come to think of it, almost all good books bring me to tears. (nerdy cry baby alert)

that so far, everything relating to our move to Berlin has fallen into place seamlessly.  It all just feels very very right.

waking up next to Andreas every morning and falling asleep next to him every night.  I am not sure how I got so lucky to be able to spend my days with such an incredible man, but I am oh so thankful.  Today marks two months of married life :)

and lastly, for all of you, for reading, commenting and supporting me and this little blog.

what are you thankful for?  I hope all of you stateside are enjoying the holiday however you are celebrating :)

photo taken by me a million years ago in Paris

weekend

a few instagram snaps from our weekend in Berlin.  Sorry for the blog-silence here last week, pretty much every free moment outside of work was spent scouring the internet for an apartment, it was madness.  The good news is that all of our searching paid off and we found a lovely flat to call home :)  The picture on the bottom left is the view from our new front door of the Fernsehenturm (TV tower) at Alexanderplatz.
We spent most of Saturday running from apartment viewing to apartment viewing and on Sunday morning with a bit of free time, decided to check out a flat in the most amazing location, even if it was a little more than our budget.  Of course we instantly fell in love with the renovated Altbau (it was built in 1918) and it’s high ceilings and giant windows. 5 minutes after we had turned in the application we got a phone call from the landlord saying that it was all ours and we signed the contract before our train ride home.  It was all in all a very busy but successful weekend and I could not be more excited about our upcoming move, Berlin is such an incredible city.

ch-ch-ch-changes

Some big changes around here…. we will start 2012 off with a new home!  We are making the move to Berlin next month and while we still need to find a place to live, are SO excited.  I for one, cannot wait to be back living in a city.  The Black Forest is gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, but for me, nothing compares to the action and excitement of living in a city.  Surely there will be lots of adventures to come, so stay tuned! :)

photos from my Berlin travel story from Matchbook Mag’s Issue 2