Sep 30, 2011

"Hoff Month of guests festival"

The Uncles arrived at the Hoff house earlier this week and kicked off our "Hoff Month of guests festival". 
 
It's only appropriate to name our next few weeks of fun a festival since there seems to be some sort of festival currently taking place everyday here in Deutschland.  It will also have many of the same qualities of a festival; loud laughter, good food (maybe not on a stick),  late nights, tired feet, and happy children. 

Because our friends and family have been able to visit us so frequently, it has made our transition to Germany not only fun, but warm.  Each of our family members and friends have brought love and helped make new memories with us in our German house and with their help, our house here in Germany has slowly turned into our "home". 

I am sure there will not be much writing going on the next four weeks (since I will be quickly changing sheets and cleaning the toilets as we hug one goodbye and the other hello) but I will post pictures of all the memories and sites that will be filling our days. 

Blühenden Barock-"Palace Gardens" Schloss Ludwigsburg. 
I discovered that every year, the pumpkin festival features a different theme.  This year’s 12th annual pumpkin festival transformed castle’s garden a dinosaur playground, which are all made out of ...you guessed it-pumpkins. 

According to the castle’s Blühende Barock website, Ludwigsburg’s festival is the world’s largest pumpkin festival. More than 400,000 pumpkins and over 450 different varieties from all over the world, ranging from edible to decorative, will be displayed throughout the event. (after the garden tour, the uncles took the tour of the Palace while I took a tour of my German homework)

 




Taste test


All edible!


 pumpkin champagne!





Schloss Ludwigsburg

German homework over soup while the Uncles toured the castle



Sep 26, 2011

German translator...

I am not sure what was more energizing for me today; Finding a fabulously unique store in Stuttgart, or being "asked" to help translate some English to German. 

The energizing moment came about in a store I stumbled upon last night while browsing on Lonely Planet's "Things to Do in Stuttgart".   On their list it mentioned what turned out to be a very 'fun' store full of bags. (I have to use that adjective when I can because it really isn't used in this manner in the German language)  Even better, it was in a trendy shopping area downtown that was an unexplored territory to me.  But look out Christopher Columbus because I have fallen in love with finding "new territories" to explore since moving to Stuttgart! 

 The past week, I have been on a quest for a "book bag" to lug around all of my German school books and homework.  Today I purchased one very festive (and fun) book bag at "Tausche." (http://www.tausche.de/index.php?lang=en ) All of their "made in Germany" Tachen have interchangeable "flaps" (or covers auf English) that are easy to switch and make my book bag appear to me more like a party than school work.  When you purchase a bag, the price includes two free flaps.  However, for me, deciding on just two was much harder than my German Grammar homework because the wall of flaps on display are all marvelous.  I think I may like my new book bag as much as I liked my 70's 'wooden-handled purses with the covers that buttoned on the handle. 
My Tausche with "Flap" number 1
Same bag with "flap" number two
Opened in 1723!!!
 The second energizing thing that took place in my world today; I was asked to help translate English to German.  Even though I wasn't as successful finding the kids a school thermos at my favorite store, Tritschler (which opened in 1723), I was proud of being able to communicate my needs completely in German.  I know I write about my speaking German often, but if you understood the storm that happens in my head when you combine my brain and a foreign language, it would be clear why I write about these small accomplishments so often!   To be asked to help translate from English to German would be unthinkable if the sales clerk had known me a tad better.  But, as I was leaving the store two women walked up to the clerk I had been working with and asked in English, "How much is this?"...As we met eyes, hers cried out to mine, "what the heck are they saying?"  Without skipping a beat, I translated the ladies English words into PERFECT GERMAN!  Well, maybe that is an adjective that I should not use when describing my German.....

Sep 24, 2011

Roll Tide...in Germany

 It just seemed abnormal tonight to be sitting at home in Germany, listening to the historic church bells ringing and simultaneously hearing the television blast, "ROLL TIDE!!!"
  
We were excited that the Alabama vs. Arkansas Football game (American football) was showing on our version of ESPN.  As much as I LOVE and have begun to rely on the hourly church bells here in Europe, the ringing of the crowd's chants during the game made my heart race a bit more.  However, these sounds weren't signaling that we were late for school, or that it was dinner time, nor bedtime was looming..they were telling us that it was Saturday and GAME TIME!  

It was nice being able to watch a piece of home "LIVE".  But it also made me miss 'gamedays' at our house in Alabama with our friends.  The grill was hot for hours, the wine opener was busy and the laughs continued late into the night.  Tonight as just the two of us (and a dog) snuggled under the quilt and watched the game, we decided that "Roll Tide!" sounds just as good with the church bells ringing thru the window but it was a tad bit lonelier!  

ROLL TIDE!!! 



Sep 21, 2011

'Adversity Tours' by Cooper


“There is no education like adversity”-Benjamin Disraeli

Today I was educated-this equals

I also learned during the midst of our chaos, that I was capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life!(refer to previous post)  My bliss; I realized that Cooper has definitely contributed a different “tour” aspect to Germany that I probably would have never experienced without him-Numerous hospital “ERs”! 

Today, when he ran outside crying, “sorry…sorry…I didn’t mean to get blood everywhere”, I decided it was time to put down my newly acquired pressure washer.  In hindsight, I should have just lugged in on in the house to clean up all of the bright red that was making an appearance as our newest home décor.  Turns out Cooper got a little too excited about the book he was making and added a chunk of finger

Comforting him was the easy part, explaining to the Pediatric Surgeon that the first doctor sent us to after viewing his finger, was not so easy.  (Note to self-Add more German classes to my weekly education)  I was baffled that they continued to ask me for the address of his school after we arrived and proceeded to call Jason for translation.  We finally realized they had indeed NOT asked me if he was in school but rather had he had this accident at school.  Once I cleared that one up, we headed into the surgical room. 

After stitching Cooper’s finger with ZERO numbing, I am pretty sure that the doctor also got an education; While they comfort their babies, Mamma Bears can communicate even when they don’t speak perfect German.. Yes, adversity can lead to education!!!  


Sep 20, 2011

6 Stunden des Lernens

Our Apple tree is full!
My neighbor, Gudrun, really wanted to hang out with me thought I should do a better job at both picking my very ripe apples off our tree and improve my German a bit, so she suggested we spend a day making Apple Marmalade.

A long time ago, I would sit at my grandmother's kitchen table and witness the complete "jelly making" process,  and quickly decided I would much prefer to spend the whole buck fifty to get my toast and jelly 'fix'.  But ma's sure did taste good and so do the jars Gudrun drops off at our door, so I was all in for this lesson. 

I admit, I began to get a little nervous when Gudrun rang the buzzer, in order to explain to me, auf deutsch, exactly which apples I was to pick and how to prepare them before her arrival the following week.  As she left, I smiled and waved goodbye, while thinking...I'm in trouble now because either my ears were on pause or my German Apple picking skills were not up to par, but I was left standing under the Apple tree clueless. 

The day arrived and so did my teacher loaded with all kinds of tools;a special pot, jars, ingredients and various kitchen tools that were all new to me.  I smiled again as I showed her my big bowl of Apples that I had picked just as she had instructed.  She smiled just as big as she instructed me, "gehen Sie zu dem Apfelbaum und holen zweimal so viele."  In other words, my German lesson had begun and I had many things I needed to learn about making apple marmalade. 
 
 First time I've every used real vanilla!
Six hours later... my German vocabulary had expanded, my apple tree branches had grown lighter, my recipe book had grown by one, my children's tummies were full of applesauce and my cupboard had a whopping FIVE jars of homemade Apple Marmalade.  The best part, our friendship grew stronger and I had a blast. 

I am sure my grandmother would have laughed (as Gudrun did) when I asked at the end of our day, "Um, really....6 hours for five jars?"  Her answer was not in German words, rather a simple gesture of putting a spoon in my mouth!    
My homemade Marmalade!
Mom's applesauce doesn't look like Grandma Hoff's!!

Sep 17, 2011

Blissful State of Mind

“To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.”- Jill Bolte Taylor

Ironic that this quote came thru my email during what has been a life full of chaos the last few weeks.  I am sure much of it was “self-made” chaos since it is one of my specialties.  Nope, I didn’t seem to have that blissful state in my midst, more like the clown trying to throw the plates up in the air and catch them on my head…but my plates weren’t landing all nice and quietly.  But after reading this quote I felt a little better knowing “chaos is normal.” 

I don’t want our life in Germany to become chaotic with all of our school schedules and ‘to do lists’ because there are too many fun things I want to do while we live here.  But sometimes, I guess life becomes chaotic in any country when you have two young school children, a dog, a husband who works hard, a mom that goes to school, dirty dishes, homework, doctor’s appointments, on..and on...BUT-chaos is normal

Every night I planned on writing about the many ‘first’ tasks I accomplished here in Germany this week amidst the hectic (that I actually patted myself on the back for conquering), but it was chaotic and I seemed to fall asleep as quickly as the children.  But today during my run, as my mind began to wonder to next week’s schedule,  I saw this garden full of blooms with a great sign, and I realized…THIS is a “blissful state of mind.”  So, when things start to go crazy Monday morning, I will just say to myself…No Poo-Pooing in this life, only tapping into bliss welcome here!  



Sep 12, 2011

Wheels in Stuttgart

We had a weather snap this weekend...it snapped from jacket required to sweat while you walk warm.  The weather here baffles me with its dramatic changes.  It reminds me of petting a cat; you rub, she purrs and the next thing you know she flips over, grabs you with her claws and gives your hand a big bite.  Well, this German weather won't bite me anymore because I am no longer packing up my "off season" clothes up in a Rubbermaid.

Better on the "dogs"
The kids have also been learning an important tip for living in Germany-use wheels when going downtown or touring.  It only took us Hoffs nine months to figure out why we see many of the German children are "on wheels".   Now that we have figured this one out, we have been learning all sorts of 'wheels' here...roller-blades, scooters and "big kid" bikes.  Without them, the whining at the end of the day about their dogs being so tired is enough to send one straight to the wine cellar.  

Since we had two days of "sweat while you walk" weather, it was a perfect chance to hop on the train, with scooters in tote, to practice for all the upcoming touring we anticipate doing with with our many October guests.  I have to admit, their new scooter abilities made our shopping for snow boots/pants happen in record time. 


warm weather=long lines
 To reward them (and ourselves) for such a painless day of shopping on Saturday, today we hopped on the train straight towards some great ice cream at Eis Bistro Pingin.  The Eis is delicious but even more so is the scenery.  I can say for sure that I never ate ice cream in Alabama while sitting under a fountain built by a queen in the 1800's.   If you are ever in Stuttgart, take the U-15 to Eugensplatz, grab a nice cold Eis and cross the street to sit by the "Galateabrunnen Fountain".  If you are feeling really adventurous (and want to carry you kid's scooters up the steep hill) head up a few blocks to a really great playground!  Well, the weather has snapped back to chilly and I need to head in for a jacket!


One of Stuttgart's best



OK mom..I see the fountain can I just eat my ice cream?



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dad's turn




Sep 10, 2011

Easy wishes

Karina had easy wishes for her 7th birthday...or so I thought.  After searching for cupcakes in various German markets and staying up until midnight with some very energetic girls, I realized her wishes might not be the easiest after all...
As I began my search for fabulous pre-made cupcakes for our little birthday girl, I began to get the clue that this is not a traditional German food carried in the local market.   I love to bake, but have never ventured into the Cupcake field.   I didn't have to, a quick trip to Publix in Alabama always fulfilled my cupcake need for any occasion.  However, after my non successful search, I desperately called my 'German' friend, and soon discovered that I would be, in fact, cooking cupcakes for Karina's slumber party and her class party.
I found "muffin" mix that had a cupcake look to it in one store and I was off to my kitchen for "cupcakes 101". 


Sounds easy right....Well take a look at the directions and you will soon realize why it took me TWO hours to cook these fancy treats.  Part of the time was trying to translate the directions since 'Google translate' left me hanging and the other time was spent trying to rig the rack in my 2x4 oven so my cooking sheet would fit.  Of course, Cooper decided to help make these treats and somehow I ended up short on batter......
My "HELPER"



But again, all ends well with a little determination.  The girls didn't seem to have a problem eating the cupcakes and the sugar didn't seem to have a problem keeping them up until midnight.  Maybe my next search will be for the sugar-free version.  


This little oven has been a challenge for me....

Who is sneaking??

Just a little sugar to get us energized....

But the most important thing....Happiness!!!!





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Stuttgart, Germany, Germany
We moved from Alabama to Stuttgart, Germany in December 2010. This is a great adventure for our whole family that we enjoy sharing.
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