Monday, June 20, 2011

Its been a while.

We are truly enjoying living in Europe.  We are taking full advantage of all the places within a 3 hour radius of us.  It is amazing that in 3 hours we can be in France, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria.

In April we went to Amsterdam.  We saw the bulbs and we went to the famous Kukenhof Gardens. 
A M A Z I N G !!!!!!!!!!!

Amsterdam was lovely.  It was such a warm and inviting place to visit.  I would highly recommend traveling when the bulbs are in season if you have the opportunity.

In May we went to the Alsace region of France.  We have met a wonderful couple here that lived there for a few years.  So they were our personal guides to the countryside.  We saw many things and places while we were there.  We saw many of the beautiful towns, a castle, and we went to a wine tasting.  Dave and I are convinced that they do not ship any of the best wines to the states.  My answer to all of the 18 wines except for 2 were, "that is really good,  that is really good, oh man that is so good."
We went with several families on this trip.  We had a lot of fun and would love to go again.  So if you come over for a visit....we will take you there.

In June we went to Austria to hike the Alps.  We stayed at lovely hotel that was an all inclusive package.  We have a trip planned in July to go to Greece on a cruise.  While at the hotel the kids loved the food and the all you can eat part of it.  We told them that this place would like the period on the end of the sentence compared to the cruise.   Their eyes got really big and said they could not wait to go on the too.

And then just for fun, I started an intense German class on May 15 that goes until June 30.  It is from 9am-1pm Monday thru Friday.  Its killin' me.....  I had very high expectations of this class that I would be able to speak a little German when I was not going to happen.  I think I could take a course similiar to this every day for 6 months and I would still not be fluent.

My philological studies have satisfied me that a gifted person ought to learn English in 30 hours, French in 30 days, and German in 30 years. It seems manifest then, that the latter tongue ought to be trimmed down and repaired. If it is to remain as it is, it ought to be gently and reverently set aside among the dead languages, for only the dead have time to learn it.

-Mark Twain  1888

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Observations from Germany: Christmas and Christmas Markets (Wiehnachtsmarkt)

Sorry for the delay in getting this out, but until recently we did not have a fast Internet connection.

In Germany from late November until just before Christmas they have Christmas Markets in a lot of the cities. In Germany they are called Wiehnnachtsmarkt. I believe this translates into Holy Night Market. On a side note:  In Germany Christmas is really celebrated on the evening of the 24th. The Weinnachtsman (Santa) comes and delivers gifts, and tells the children what they should do better on the following year (clean room, no fighting with siblings, etc) on the 24th. Everyone opens their gifts on the evening of the 24th.

We visited four of them before Christmas: Stuttgart, Mainz,Frankfurt, and Esslingen, The one in Esslingen was partially shutdown as we went on the 23rd, but we will count it anyway. 

This is a picture of a department store window in Stuttgart that had a very impressive display of Legos in a Christmas theme.

At the Markets they serve a beverage called Gluwein. This picture is from Stuttgart. It is usually red wine that has had spices and sometimes rum added to it. It is then heated to the temperature of molten lava and served in a coffee cup. When you order one you pay for the the Gluwein (about 2 to 3 Euros) and the mug(a deposit/pfand of 2 to 3 euros). If you decide not to keep the mug/glass, then you turn it back in and get your money back. This is a deceptively powerful drink, about two of these is all you need. Anymore than that and you might sleep through Christmas.

At the markets they have lots of booths set up where you can buy all kinds of stuff. Usually Christmas related, toys, candy, cookies.
 At Stuttgart they have set up a large area where they have toy trains, and running through it is a steam train that the kids could ride. It was really cool!

In Stuttgart Cindy got a treat called a Kartoffel Puffer mit Apfel Muss. This was basically deep fried mashed potatoes with apple sauce. It was really good

This picture is from the Christmas market in Mainz. It was somewhat smaller that the others, but probably my favorite as it was not very crowded and very pretty. 

Cindy, Spencer and Owen in Mainz by the 5 story Christmas decoration.

Another Picture from Mainz.
The picture below left is from Esslingen. It very old city near Stuttgart(middle ages). Cindy took this picture of the old church in town. It turned out really well.
Below is a picture in a wine bar in Mainz after our Christmas market visit. We are eating Spudekas'. Which they serve with onions and pretzels. You can see from the expression on Spencer's face, it is to die for.

When we got up on Christmas morning it had snowed about 10-12 inches, yea white Christmas. This is a lot of snow, but it Stuttgart, it pretty much locked the place up tight. The streets are so small and tight, they have nowhere to push the snow. So, we had a relaxing Christmas and never left home all day.
See terrace below.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Observations from Germany: The Flat

Cindy, Spencer, Owen, and I have just moved to Stuttgart Germany for my job with GM. Cindy and I will be posting as often as possible to document our daily life here in Germany with an emphasis on the unique differences between Germany and the US. I find these differences very interesting as it gives me an some insight into why and how our cultures are different.

We arrived last Friday, December 17th, (the 107th anniversary of controlled powered flight, thank you Orville and Wilbur Wright) and came to Stuttgart to pick up keys to our flat. It is in Sonnenberg a suburb just south of Stuttgart. It is about 1150 sq ft. with 3 bedrooms and 1.5 baths. It is in a building with about 6 other flats. About 4 floors, and a "tief garage" a garage in the basement. See pictures below.  It is currently a little septic without any personal nick nacks and such but our shipment of stuff will not arrive until next week.
Front door and entry hallway.On the right are two bedrooms, one for Spencer and Owen and a spare bedroom(please come and visit). Straight ahead is our bedroom and on the left is the full bath.

The full bath is very large it has a tub and a shower.It also has a bidet. The boys were unsure about this to begin with, but I think we may have to install one when we get back to the States.

This is a shot from the spare bedroom down the hall to the living room.The door up on the right is the kitchen.
Kitchen:.It is very nice. It is brand new as the landlord just installed it before we moved in. It has granite counterer tops, tile floor, and a dishwasher.
Picture of living room and terrace.
Looking back across the living room from the terrace to the kitchen.

This is the view from our terrace. It is very pretty. As you can see it is very hilly here and makes for a good view.

Another picture off the terrace

Some interesting observation about the flat. If you notice in a lot of the picture we have just a light bulb hanging from the ceiling. When you rent a flat in Germany you have to provide all your own lighting and usually the kitchen (we were lucky as the landlord provided the kitchen). So, when you leave, you take everything with you incuding the lighting. So, all of the ceiling fixtures have been removed and we are left with "interogation bulbs" in each room. Its as if the police could come in at any minute to question a suspect in any of our rooms. On the good side it seems that no one in the family can tell a lie when these lights are on.

Another thing that is really interesting are the blinds and curtain tracks on the windows. The blinds are on the outside of the window, but controlled from the inside. They are very nice I wish I had them on my house in the US. Also, the there is a cutrain track on the ceiling for each of the windows. This is something that must be unique to German/EU. See below.
Fully closed. The tan strap to the left of the window is how the blinds are controlled.
If you look close you can see that the blinds are slightly seperated, but sill cover the window (ie lets a little light in)

Partially opened.

Curtain tracks in ceiling.

We will write a little more later.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A great weekend!!

A busy weekend for us.  Spencer had a few friends over for a sleepover.  That was alot of fun.  We need to that more often.  I can't believe my kids are getting old enought to play Mafia.  Have you ever played before?  Dave and I used to play that with the youth group.  Love it!!

 Here the kids are blowing up balloons and letting them go.  Thanks Grandpa for a great birthday gift.
 Making  a gingerbread house.  More like decorating only.  I pulled it out of the box already put together.
 It started out kind of slow.  The kids were tired from the night before sleep over.  And it is about 9:30pm.
 I wish this photo was in focus.  The camera kept wanting to focus on Dave's arm....aaaaaahhh!!

    Owen is super focused here.  I really like this photo of him.
Super cutey patutey!!
 I think he fell asleep....
 The finished house....yeah!!!
Outside today.  Earlier today.  Now there is more snow plus ice plus 14 degree weather = snow day tomorrow.

The movers come tomorrow!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

cindygert is moving to Germany.

A new adventure awaits us in Germany.  We are moving to Stuttgart in December for a little over a year.  I hope to continue my operation over there but it is looking like it might be difficult for me because we are not taking much over with us.  I will definately resume when I return and hopefully I will have wonderful ideas to incorporate into the new bags of 2012.

This blog will most likely evolve to include alot more of my adventures over in Germany than bag making.

Please stay tuned,


Sunday, October 17, 2010

October Arts Market at SoBo

These are all the cuties that found new homes this weekend from the Arts Market!! It was a great fun and I hope to do it again in the future.  I will post tomorrow about the available bags on this site.  The ones at SoBo Style are listed here

Hedy Regal has a wonderful blog where she posted about the Arts Market.  She is so talented.  Please head over to her blog for a full recap of the day and all the other featured artists.

Gray with Squirrel $125

Black with Red Flower $125

Gray Stripes $95

Red with Cream Swirl and Bling Buttons $125

Black Speckle with Red Swirlie Flowers $95
Green Birdies on a Limb  $135
Tan with Black Dots $125
Pink with Cream Flowers  $125
Birdies on a Limb  $85
And a Gift for Katie...thanks for a wonderful show!!
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