Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A few of my favorite things - cafés

One aspect of city life that I have appreciated since I first moved here are the cafés.  In our first apartment, we had 10 cafés within a 500yd radius - awesome!

Besides the atmosphere of the various cafés I visited (from cozy, reading-conducive to chic and sophisticated), I appreciate the service culture.  Waiters typically don't hover over your table, waiting for you to quickly finish, so they can have a free table.  You sit, order, enjoy and take your time.  When you're finished, then you can signal for the waiter that you'd like to pay.  No feeling like you're being watched to see when you leave.

What has I've also always found interesting is seeing people who have a regular place in the café: the man who reads his morning paper in the corner, the group of women who gather to chat by the window, the moms and babies who meet in a certain area.  Cafés definitely provide great people-watching opportunities.

So, here's a small list of my favorite cafés - if you're in Frankfurt, I hope you have the chance to visit one this week.
Café Kante, Source
Café Extra-blatt - two downtown locations, good for meeting up with larger groups of friends

Café Kante, Kant Straße 13 (Bornheim) - I love the atmosphere of this small café.  Lovely coffees and teas and great cake.  This fits into my imagined "European café."

Café Karin Where Igor and I met the graphic designer to design our wedding invitations - lots of good memories here:)  Also, this is an "adult" café where you can take the kids without too much stress.

Café Klatsch I love Café Klatsch's ecclectic atmosphere! They have great Indian-inspired food and a wide selection of teas.  My favorite spot: sitting in the boats outside in the summer.

Café Savannah My favorite café to go with the kids!  They have a super-friendly staff, great food and drink (even lukewarm hot chocolate in fun animal mugs for the kids) and two - yep, two! - rooms for the kids to play in.  The adults also have comfy seats and tables to sit in a bright, happy atmosphere while the kids play:)

Familien Betrieb Another family-friendly café in Bornheim.  Very cute style, with a boutique of handmade produkts.  Good food, plenty of room for larger groups and a play room for the kids.

Harvey's Upbeat, trendy, great brunches.  In warmer weather, this is a really nice place to meet friends with kids (in the winter I don't find being inside with the kids so relaxing).

Jenny's Cupcakes not a "café" so to speak but a nice atmosphere to eat delicious cupcakes!

Wacker's Kaffee I always go to the Bornheim café and love its atmosphere.  The coffee is roasted here in Frankfurt and the cake is always delicious.

Ypsilon Buchladen und Café I like this café for breakfast and love that it's connected with a book store - one of my ideas of a perfect winter morning is reading here:)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hello, Monday

I'm very excited to say hello to this week with Lisa Leonard.
Last week was basically on "beam me up, Scotty" mode since Wednesday (3 sick kids...).

Hello, week with healthy family members (please!)

Hello, getting ready for Create! am Main this Saturday!!!!!

Kids helping prepare pom-pom activity
funky crayons:)

Hello, trying not to forget about the people I love (while I get ready for Create! am Main).

My main supporter - I couldn't do what I do without him:)

Hello, yarn, material, sticks, glue, paper and lots more craft things:)

Hello, warm weather and sunshine (we'll enjoy however long that lasts:)

Hello, busy, busy week - I hope I can enjoy every minute (or at least most minutes!)

What are you saying hello to this week?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Theology Thursday

"I will never leave you nor forsake you" Hebrews 13:5b
Some days, weeks, months, this part of a verse is exactly what I need to hear, again and again.  There are times when living here, far from "home" - family, old friends, familiar roads and landscapes, is hard.  I can get caught up in remembering all that was good and special about Pennsylvania or Arizona, that I forget that there is a purpose for us living here in Frankfurt.  I guess that's what makes this Expat experience doable for me.  Igor and I believe (and seek to live that belief!) that this is where we are to be right now, to be serving God for a variety of purposes.

And when some of those purposes seem draining or unproductive or whiny (yesterday and today we've had sick, whiny kids), well, we can remind one another that God will not leave us or forsake us. And this quote is from Deuteronomy 31:5, which is reminding Joshua to be strong and courageous!  So, even if I feel tired or defeated or home-sick, I can find courage and strength in the knowledge that I am neither alone nor forsaken. 

As I remembered this portion of a verse tonight and looked to see the context, I was encouraged to see it's set in verses describing how we're living - loving one another, showing hospitality, helping those in need (in prison or suffering), respecting marriage, being dependent on God not money for security and contentment (Hebrews 13:1-5).  That adds even more depth to this reminder that God will not forsake us, and that our lives should reflect this knowlege.

Yep, that definitely is what makes this whole thing called life so meaningful, vibrant and doable:)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I can remember my first winter in Germany.  It was gray and dull and not too cold but cold enough that you couldn't be outside for long amounts of time.  Then came February.  Again, gray, dull and cold, but towards the end of the month, just before Lent, I started seeing lots of people dressed up like Halloween.  Igor took me to a (very funny and strange) concert/party at our local neighborhood meeting room (Bornheim Saalbau), where I had my first exposure to German "Schlager" music (no idea how to describe this music...) and to Germans during Fasching time. 

Basically, this holiday originates from wanting to be as foolish/without morals/without boundaries as possible right before the Lentin time.  (not something our family supports.)  There's Rose Monday and Fasching (Tuesday - Fasnacht for the Pennsylvania Dutch), where you can buy tons of "kreppels"  (doughnuts) right before you give up sugar for Lent.  Parades, dressing up in costumes, eating lots of sweets - this is what I acquaint with Fasching.  And like Halloween, the origins and some of the customs are opposite to what we think is good and right.  However (like Halloween), I'm glad we're now in a time where we can enjoy the light-hearted side of Fasching by celebrating with costumes (we have knights, vikings, princesses, and Roman soldiers in our house this year).

We spent the afternoon with some friends from Monkey's kindergarten who live directly on the parade route - perfect.  I stayed inside with Bubba and the other little ones (and some moms) while Igor helped teach Monkey and Sissy the finer points of gathering much candy/free stuff (it's amazing what gets handed out at parades - soup, roses, beer, "gluhwein" (hot spiced wine)).

At the end of the day, this was definitely a fun way to spend a Tuesday:)

Does your town or country have traditions specific to just your area?  Have you ever dressed up for Fasching/Fasnacht?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hello, Monday

Another week of thinking about what I get to say hello to:) (joining Lisa Leonard)

Hello, week with Igor on vacation! We're staying home, enjoying friends' watching the kids a few times this week (thank you!) and Igor is looking forward to this project:

Our apple, pear and plum trees need to be pruned by March 1st, so Igor is taking advantage of this week - and hoping for dry, warm weather.

Hello, Fasching...Germany goes a bit crazy this time of year (right before Lent).  This is our first year to fully experience Karnival with children, since Monkey is now in kindergarten. Today, we have a Roman soldier going to kindergarten; tomorrow I think he's planning to be St. Martin. (more info on that tomorrow:)

Hello, Rita Storee!  We loved attending her first (English!) story time and are very excited to have another chance to listen to her read some of her favorite stories.  If you're in Frankfurt and have kids 3 and older, come to the Saalbau Bornheim this Thursday at 4pm.

And hello to the chance to travel with Sissy (just the girls!) to visit good friends and a new baby:)

What are you saying hello to this week?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Food Friday - Lamb

As a Valentine's dinner for Igor, I prepared lamb, one of his favorite meats.  With the kids asleep, we were able to enjoy a lovely, candlelit dinner.  (we need to do this more often!)  My sweet neighbor shared this recipe with me; I, of course, made up my own measurements and added a bit here and there. 

Lamb with a Mustard Crust
2 Lamb filets (~150g each)

Crust: 2 Tbs Dijon Mustard
1 Tbs Butter
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tsp Herbs de Provence
1/2 tsp Salt, Pepper

Sauce: 1/2 cup dry red wine
1 Tbs Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp flour
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
Salt, pepper to taste

Lightly coat lamb filets in flour and fry in 2 tbs oil  on medium-high about 5-7minutes until medium-done.  Mix Mustard crust together.  Remove lamb from pan and put mustard paste on one side.  In the pan, mix together the red wine sauce on low, allowing to simmer.  Place mustard-crusted lamb in the sauce and put the pan in the oven (or, if your pan isn't oven-safe, put the sauce and lamb in a casserole dish) on 350F for 8-10 minutes until the crust is golden-brown.  Remove from oven and let the lamb sit for 2 minutes, then serve with sauce.

I  served the lamb with a grapefruit-olive salad (without schrimp), roasted potatoes with herbs, a good red wine and great company - perfect:)

Hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Theology Thursday - Generosity

Bible study last night looked at Mark 10:17-27, which tells of the rich young man being disappointed when Jesus instructed him to sell all he possessed and follow Jesus.  It reminded me of the passage last week at another Bible study: Luke 12:13-21, the parable of the rich fool who thought only of using his riches for his own good.

Both of these passages reminded me of the focus on generosity in Jesus' ministry.  He did not sparingly give when he fed the crowd of 5,000.  Neither did he limit healing of people to the rich and educated Jews, but rather on several accounts, Jesus healed people outside the Jewish faith (for example, Luke 7 - the centurion's servant).

And this brings me back to my current struggle to give generously of myself to my children.  As I see in Jesus' example, he takes care of himself (Mark 1:35) but also gives generously.  Once again, I can find encouragement and strength in knowing that my Lord understands the balance needed in this life.  And I can once again be reminded, that he will daily bear my burdens (Psalm 68:19) and give me wisdom when I ask for it (James 1:5).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Create! am Main

Kreativmarkt, October 22, 2011
Germany is also experiencing the trend to return to hand-made and local-made items.  In Hamburg, Munich, Berlin and other German cities, many hand-made markets, creative days and other such events are frequently offered.  And Frankfurt is also coming along in this area, with more and more people being interested in participating as vendors or buyers in local, handmade markets.

Well, this third major development from my new-found interest in sewing started out as a whim in August 2011and in October 2011, Create am Main organized a creative market in the Sachsenhausen neighborhood of Frankfurt.  We had several hundred people who stopped by (!!!!), many of whom signed up for our mailing list. 

What is Create! am Main?  Well, for me (one of the organizers), it's an opportunity to share - my products, my new-found interest in creating with my hands, and myself with others here in Frankfurt.  It's a chance to take the anonymity out of this city; to put a face to the maker of something; to meet new people; to exchange ideas and hopes.  I'm excited and interested to see how this further develops: more markets, new creative-community ideas that we can share with Frankfurt, a city that is known for it's knowledge of business rather than of the arts and people (although, I do need to put forth a plug for our opera - its chorus has been ranked as one of Europe's top choruses several years by Opera Magazine. Go Frankfurt!)

I guess I'm realizing, like Tim Keller has demonstrated in New York City, that Christians are to be a blessing for cities.  We're to love and seek to do what we can to benefit our city.  And I see here another small (or big?) way in which I can join in, in benefiting my city.

Currently, Create! am Main is organizing on March 3, 2012  a Kreativtag - a creative day for people who are creative or who want to be....we're encouraging anyone who'd like to join us, to come with their sewing machine, knitting needles or simply themselves and join us for a day of learning and sharing an interest in "handarbeit". (more info, even in English!, at our website).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A few of my favorite things (restaurants)

I recently made a new friend, Sara, who moved to Frankfurt a few months ago.  It's been so good for me to speak with her and remember the many small details that made adjustment to Frankfurt a challenge: locating services in English (piano tuner, hair dresser, etc.), understanding the water/electric/gas system (although, I still don't understand them...I just let Igor handle that - terrible! but it works for me), learning about the recreation options and restaurants in the area.

One simple "allgemein" tip: in most cities, the cafés and restaurants in museums are very good (if a bit expensive): in Frankfurt, we've enjoyed Holbein's(Städel Museum) and Restaurant Emma Metzler(in the park of the Museum for Angewandet Kunst) are two good examples of this tip being true.

The following restaurants are all located in Frankfurt; I've listed the neighborhood (Stadtteil) in parenthesis.

Der Lahme Esel (Niederursel) - Frankfurt Specialities

Pizzeria Cimino da Rosa (Heddernheim) - Stone oven pizza (Igor's favorite pizzeria)

Malepartus (Bornheim)- Local, seasonal food

Wagner's (Sachsenhausen) - one of the most popular Apple wine restaurants

Pasta Davini (Center City) - good Italian food; Igor recommends the starter platters (imported cheese and meats from Italy) and their handmade pasta dishes

Ortlieb's Scheune (Eschersheim) - classical German "dinner" food (not just plain old food) and very good wines

Spice (Bahnhof) - good Indian food (Igor and I used to meet here often for lunch...before children).

Ban Thai (Bockenheim) - one of our favorite Thai restaurants

There are so many more wonderful restaurants in Frankfurt and this short list reminds me of one of the many advantages to be found living in a city.

Frankfurt-people: are these any of your favorite restaurants?  Do you have any recommendations for me (and Sara)?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hello, Monday

Another week to say "Hello" to with Lisa Leonard.

Hello, first full week of our reduced schedule...needing to make hard decisions in order to put a bit more relaxing time into our lives (we'll see how it goes).

Hello, three date nights! Valentine's Day, dinner with friends and our normal Friday Date Night - we're a lucky couple:)

Hello, warmer and less-chapped hands...thanks, Igor!  The pattern might be funky, but it's absolutely worth it in this weather (and match my outfits better than the bright yellow ski gloves I used last week:)

Hello, another week to try to do my best with this life I've been glad God's mercies are new each day.

What are you saying "Hello" to this Monday?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Food Friday - Savoy Cabbage (Wirsing)

Mmmm....Winter in a "temperate seasonal climate" offers a limited range of seasonal vegetables.  In the grocery stores, I'm seeing 10kg (25lb) bags of potatoes and cabbage.  I love when I can buy and prepare a seasonal meal (usually involving potatoes and something from the cabbage family): Savoy Cabbage (Wirsing) Stirfry.
Even my kids liked this (although, they were a bit suspicious of the wirsing strips...but the did eat and enjoy the dish, with help from the promise of dessert for finishing their dinner).

Savoy Cabbage (Wirsing) Stirfry
5-7 leaves of savoy cabbage, de-ribbed (technical term: cut out the thick rib in the middle of the leaf) and finely chopped
4 pork chops/steaks, sliced
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 leek, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed (1Tbs from jar)
3 Tbs sesame seeds
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup oil

Marinade cut pork in soy sauce mix for several hours.  On high heat, sautée pork until cooked through.  Add mushrooms and chopped savoy cabbage; sautée 3-5 minutes.  Serve with rice.

Oh! and my favorite kitchen tool when preparing food for children: kitchen scissors.

You can cut almost anything super-easy with kitchen scissors!  Mine are in use almost every day:)

What's your favorite simple but super kitchen/cooking tip?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Theology Thursday

Hebrews 4:12 For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joint and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

This past week, I experienced this Scripture in a very present way.  I have been involved in a Bible study on the book of Luke, and I found Luke 11:37-54 returning to my thoughts very often (Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and teachers of the Law).  In short, this scripture has caused me to evaluate the importance I place on how my house looks and how my children behave in public...ouch!  The scripture began a process of thinking about my priorities and how I interact with my family.  I feel this is just the beginning of a process (and that scares me a bit, since I don't like to see ugly, sinful parts of me), but I have the hope that maturity and good results will come from such a process of considering my priorities, my life focus and how I then live.

I've seen how Scripture that I memorized as a child (and adult) has affected my attitude when I take my disappointment/frustration/anger/sadness and replace it with words from the Bible.  I guess that's how it works: (Hebrews 12:1-2) when we fix our eyes on Jesus, we're throwing off things that easily entangle us and are able to run the race (living this life in a way that honors God).

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Top Ten...

In trying to make this blog relevant for other expats, I thought I'd share my Top Ten list of what I found new when I first moved to Frankfurt (I had to look in my journal for some of these...funny how time softens the edges on memories:)

10. Traveling distance: yes, many countries are close by, but traveling 2 hours by car is a big deal, something that's a big weekend trip...I moved from Arizona,where I'd drive "to town" (3 1/2 hours) in one day.

9. Finding myself eavesdropping on English-speakers, just because it made me feel good to understand what they were saying.

8. Meeting many expats who regularly move around the world (Frankfurt or city specific, I think).

7. Hearing many, many languages as part of a normal day.  In Frankfurt, I'm sure it's more extreme than in the country, but on a typical day I hear English, German, various Asian (Korean, Japanese, especially), several slavic languages, French, a few African languages and, of course, Turkish.

6. Shop hours: when I moved here, 8pm was the new, later closing time (now it's 9, 10 or even(!) 12am); no shopping on Sundays (now you can shop on Sundays 4 times a year), and'd think the world would end, the way everyone (even I now!) reacts to stores being closed over the holidays.

5. Amount of religious holidays in the year.  Getting 3 days off for Easter and Christmas, Pentecost, Christ's Assension, etc. Oh! and "Bruckentage" - bridge days - when a holiday falls on Tuesday or Thursday, many (most?) people take off the Monday or Friday to have an extended weekend...this struck me as an odd but good tradition.

4. Einbahnstrassen (One way streets)

3. Being able to find at least one piece of Ikea furniture in each friends' apartment we visited.

2. Learning that Saturday really does revolve around the National Soccer League (at least in our house:)

1. No kitchen in our apartment. For 3 weeks (it felt like 3 months!) we waited for our ordered kitchen to come!  Dishes were done in the shower; we grew very tired of eating out; we ate lots of salads and raclette (wonderful European tradition of grilling veggies, meat and comté cheese).

What were some of your surprises when you moved to a new area?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sissy Sue

The past few weeks I've written about my discovery of actually enjoying sewing and creating a product with my own hands.  Today, I want to share the story of my little business Sissy Sue (and Brother, too! for all my male clients:).

After beginning to meet with the German American Namibian Sewing Club, my projects with the sewing machine grew to more than just blankets and starting quilt tops. With several friends getting married in 2011, I decided I wanted to make a gift for the brides.  My first bag was given to Lilli in June.  When making a few other bags for friends, the lovely women of GAN asked if I had thought about selling my bags.  Me? No! Who would buy them?

But the thought was planted and that August, after reading an inspiring blog entry about hosting a home boutique, I casually mentioned that maybe, someday our group could host a market.  Well, having the motivated membership that we do, that "someday" market happened at the end of October.  Create! am Main Kreativmarkt was a lovely, exciting and successful event in the Sachsenhausen neighborhood of Frankfurt.  As well as selling various bags, crayon rolls and buntings, I also received several customized orders from people at the market.  These orders prompted me to start a website for Sissy Sue, which many amazing friends helped shape (and are still helping to shape...and correct my German!).

In December, I was able to display my products in wonderful, family-friendly Café Savannah, whose team and atmosphere make having coffee with friends and kids possible.  2012 holds many new possibilities for developing Sissy Sue: creating more of a presence on the internet, continuing to work with Café Savannah, as well as organizing and participating in other creative markets in the Frankfurt area, such as Eintagsladen 5.

Now I am able to sew at night and during naptime and occasional weekends when Igor watches the kids, with the goal of saving for visits to the U.S. (what a great motivation!).

There are many things I've enjoyed about discovering this new area of creativity: a new challenge, developing my design eye, having a finished product, providing something of function and beauty for others, getting to know other creative people on a different level (as a peer, not just an admirer), and on and on.

Funny how one year can bring such big changes in one's life.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Hello, Monday

I'm linking up with Lisa Leonard to say hello.

Hello, more sunshine and cold!  It's been extremely cold here but also extremely lovely: blue skies and sunshine!  I think I can handle bundling up in exchange for sunshine:)

Hello, not procrastinating on sending out big emails/posts...for church, Create!am Main, and Sissy Sue.  Lots of work to do but it's all worth it!

Hello, to remembering the greatest joy and job I currently have:

What are you saying "hello" to this week?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Food Friday - Grapefruit, Olive and Schrimp Salad

I know - strange combination.  But it actually tastes great!

The original recipe is from a Williams & Sonoma cookbook by Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti. (I added the fried schrimp and substituted Feldsalat for red leaf lettuce)

1 head red leaf lettuce (or 50g Feldsalat)
2 medium grapefruits
12 black olives, pitted
12 (or so) schrimps
2 Tbs strong mustard
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup olive oil (I used lemon olive oil)

Clean salad and place in a bowl.  Fry cleaned schrimps in butter with some herbs de Provence.  Peel and section the grapefruit; remove white membrane from each segment.  Add grapefruit, olives and fried schrimp to the salad.
Combine mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and oil; pour dressing over the salad.

This salad goes perfectly with a nice white wine and baguette - enjoy!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Theology Thursday

Today's been a busy day.  A day full of encouragement, prayer and laughter but also one with normal chores (dishes, trash, clothes wash), very cold temperatures (in the mid-teens  Fahrenheit) and temper tantrums.  [Yes, that is a foam sword by the candles.  Just a reminder of my life: peaceful moments accompanied by the reminder of active children.]

Below is one of my favorite hymns (by Samuel Trevor Francis).  It's a hymn that I find so peaceful and encouraging, especially on up and down days.  Do you have a favorite hymn or song for crazy days?

O the deep, deep love of Jesus!  Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free;
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me. 
Underneath me all around me, is the current of thy love;
Leading onward, leading homeward, to thy glorious rest above.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus!  Spread his praise from shore to shore;
How he loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore; 
How he watches o’er his loved ones, died to call them all his own;
How for them he intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus!  Love of ev’ry love the best:
 'Tis an ocean vast of blessing, ‘tis a haven sweet of rest. 
O the deep, deep love of Jesus!  ‘Tis a heav’n of heav’ns to me; 
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to thee.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The German-American-Namibian Sewing Club

Last week I wrote about my start in sewing.  After sewing three blankets with my Pfaff machine, it was no longer sewing correctly, and I started sewing by hand in 2009.  Fast forward to February 2011 (yes, I am that lazy about some things!). A good friend was pregnant, and I wanted to host a baby shower for her. I became convinced that self-made buntings would be the perfect decoration. I ask another friend if I could come and use her sewing machine. While I sewed on her machine, she fixed mine (tightened the needle and thread tension...that simple!). 

The buntings were a hit; my ultra-creative friends Desi and Damaris (somehow inspired by me - what?!) decide we should meet regularly to sew. Since I was currently reading Alexander McCall Smith's popular lady detective series and because of our nationalities, the name for our group came naturally.

We started meeting bi-weekly in March 2011.  We each bring our sewing machines to Desi's - fortunately, she has a 3 plug extension cord.  After occupying her dining table, we sew, exchange ideas, praise one another's accomplishments, problem-solve, and simply enjoy spending time engaging our creativity in the company of friends.

This small group has enhanced my life in Frankfurt in many ways and for that, I am extremely thankful.