November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

A year ago we were up in Berlin celebrating Thanksgiving (this picture is from Thanksgiving day at the Berlin zoo). This year, we'll be home in Grafenwoehr celebrating with friends. What a wonderful year it has been so far, and we have so much to be thankful for! Sometimes it scares me to say all the things I am so thankful for out loud, as though it somehow could jinx us. But, believe me, we are thankful.

This year, I'm preparing a turkey, ham, mashed potates, broccoli cheese rice casserole, homemade onion yeast rolls, homemade apple stuffing, gravy, green beans, a butternut squash galette, and a chocolate tart. Oh my. Tonight I'll do as much prepping as I can when the kids are in bed, and try to clean/organize as well. I have the feeling I might be up pretty late. I love having a full house though and being with friends on holidays is the next best thing to family.

How about you all? What are your Thanksgiving plans? Trying out any new recipes? Sticking with some family favorites? I'm trying out quite a few new ones and hoping for the best. We'll know tomorrow! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

November 20, 2014

Advent Calendar 2014

Last year, I tried buying small gifts (harmonicas, flutes, glow sticks, etc) and sweets to fill our Advent Calendar for the kids. Some were just too big to fit in the pockets of the felt tree and I felt like it was a little bit too much stuff they didn't really need. This year, I'll do a few sweets and small gifts, but the majority of fillers will be activities they pull out from the pockets. I've had so much fun thinking of activities for us to do!  Here is my list:

  • Shop for a Gift to give to charity. Donate a toy of our own to charity too.
  • Bake Cookies and Treats and bring them to our neighbors together
  • Make a gingerbread house together
  • Go cut a Christmas Tree together
  • Make Christmas Gifts and Cards for the grandparents
  • Have a hot cocoa party in the basement restaurant in our house with candles and music and a nicely set table.
  • Wear our pajamas and snuggle up on the floor together to watch a Christmas movie.
  • Wear our pajamas and read all our Christmas books together in a tent with cookies and milk.
  • Make Clay and Dough ornaments for our tree together
  • Attend a Christmas Market or two in the many awesome German towns nearby
  • Fill the kids shoes with goodies on Dec 6 from St. Nick.
  • Visit an orphanage or soup kitchen to serve a meal.
  • Walk through town together to see all the Christmas decorations.
I'll be writing them out on little scrolls of papers and draw pictures too so the kids can guess what we're doing. Then I just have to figure out which days to put each activity. 

How about you all? What activities do you have planned for the season? Do you do something similar for you advent calendar? Only 10 days left till December!

November 14, 2014

Three years is too long

I know, I know... I disappeared for the last month! It all started with a terrible virus that left the whole family immobile for a week. Fever, aches, cough, and exhaustion that lead to an upper respiratory infection. Not fun. But, after the sickness (during for poor Frank and Lily), we took a 11.5 hour flight back home to Kentucky and stayed for two weeks. Let me tell you folks, three years away is much too long.

Though I failed majorly in the photo department, I did capture one great day at Evans Orchard the day after we arrived. The first time I ever met my niece and nephew (twins) Ella and Issac! And the first time Lily basically met everyone in the family other than those who have visited us in Germany. It was a pretty awesome trip. Packed in as much family time as possible, as well as some friend time and some climbing, but never enough. Oh, I miss my Old Kentucky Home already.

Lily adored Missy instantly. Later on in the trip, her reply to us asking what her favorite part of the day was "Missy".
This little man didn't know what to think of me all day long. His eyes tell the story. Who is this lady taking pictures of me!

These two, only three days apart in age, hit it off great!
Cooper and I made his sweatshirt using freezer paper as a stencil on a sick day before our trip.
Ella warmed up to me right away, and to Cooper below who helped her around on the hay.
Cutest baby pigs rooting around in the mud.
We thought this was the mama, but no, turned out to be the daddy getting his groove on with the water pail.
Missy and her sneaky smile. She grabbed a bunny out for us all to pet.


Can't believe we only have 2 weeks now until Thanksgiving and 6 weeks until Christmas! I'm planning on getting back into my blogging routine and have some fun crafts and ideas to post soon! Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend.

October 14, 2014

Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival

Pumpkins and a palace? Here, in Germany!? When I found out about this fest last week, I was determined to make the trip. Happy to say, yesterday, we visited Ludwigsburg Palace for the largest pumpkin festival in the world.  With over 400,000 pumpkins ranging from blue banana pumpkins and red kuri squash, to everything in between (nearly 450 varieties), we had a fantastic day exploring the elegant palace grounds for this year's theme "Royal".
 In addition to  thousands of gourds for sale, the palace gardens are full of pumpkin sculptures, and NONE of the pumpkins are painted. Did you know that there really are white, gray, and black pumpkins? I had no idea!

Pumpkins are shipped from countries all over the world for the fest, and pumpkin products of every sort are sold (such as pumpkin ketchup, pumpkin pesto, pumpkin chutney, and more). I so badly wanted pumpkin soup, but the rain came and we hopped in a restaurant to wait out the rain and ate from the menu there which did not have any pumpkin. A few minutes after leaving the restaurant to continue our adventure through the gardens, smells of pumpkin soup, pumpkin spaghetti, and more flooded my nose. Shoot! We missed a giant fest tent with a menu of nothing but awesome pumpkin concoctions that smelled so delicious I contemplated eating again.

The largest pumpkins in the world are also at this fest, some with weights over 2000 pounds! Can you imagine?

Aside from all the pumpkins, the palace grounds have a wonderul playground for kids, a boat ride, and a large fairy tale village complete with a maze at the end. The kids never wanted to leave. Neither did we!

For me, these little gourd people scenes they had set up were my favorite. Too cute. Can you believe those hands and arms? They are made from gourd stems! 

Tonight I do believe we'll be having some butternut squash soup and decorating our pumpkins we bought from the fest.

October 10, 2014

Friday I'm in Love

Hello! Friday at last, and it's a three day weekend! What are your plans? Anyone taking trips?

We've decided to hit the road after work today and head to the Stuttgart area for sightseeing, shopping, climbing (of course), and a pumpkin festival! Every year, thousands of visitors go to Ludwigsburg for a pumpkin festival where statues and scenes all around the castle gardens are made using thousands of gourds. You can buy/eat pumpkin beers, soups, jellies, jams, candy, and everything in between. I'm excited. This will be our first time and the theme this year is Royal Pumpkins. Should be interesting.

And here are this week's interesting finds: