Family is here!

28 07 2012

Tobi, Mom, Jeff and Dad on the way home from the airport

My parents, my uncle Jeff and cousin Liz are finally here! They arrived early on Thursday morning and they were lucky to have 2 wonderful summer days with lots of sunshine for their first impression of Germany!

Now it’s back to rain for the weekend, which actually works pretty well because we were able to do lots of touristy stuff the past two days, and now we can work on folding wedding programs à la assembly line!

It’s nice having them here and showing them where I live! Jon, Jaimie and Abby arrive on Monday so then everyone who’s coming will be here! Should be fun.

(… WE GET MARRIED ONE WEEK FROM TODAY!!! Starting to get nervous/excited!)

Happy weekend to you all!


Around here

20 07 2012

Home stretch…two weeks left!! And out of my last five days of work before the wedding, I have now finished two. [Starting to get excited, yo!]

Now it’s the weekend, I’ve got a haircut appointment today (trimming off those split ends that haven’t been cut since last summer! and getting my bangs professionally reshaped), shopping with friends, finishing up wedding DIY, practicing our first dance choreography…the list goes on and on.

I am so very excited!

And I’m extra excited this morning because on the way home from work on my bike, I decided to ride on the other side of the street for once to switch it up a little. My spontaneity was rewarded, as I saw a box that said “Zu verschenken” (basically: FREE STUFF!) and it had 6 succulent plants in it! I screeched to a halt and pulled over and stuck as many of them in my bag as I could (4 of them fit!). There were a few bowls and mugs, too, but they weren’t awesome so I left them there for the next person.

Tobias isn’t as much of a fan of these plants as I am, but he told me he likes that I like these plants so much, and so it’s okay for him to have them around.

So…I’m one happy camper!

Happy Friday to you all!

Monkey Donuts

17 07 2012

In class last week, I lamented the fact that there is no Dunkin’ Donuts in Hamburg. But one student piped up and said, “There is a donut shop near the university!” and whipped out her iPhone and had a name and an address for me within seconds. It’s called Monkey Donuts, and it’s apparently Hamburg’s first (and, so far, only) donut shop! I am sooooo excited about this!

This past weekend, Tobias and I were in the neighborhood and I decided we had to stop by! Walking in was like…the most amazing thing ever, seeing all of those colorful donuts all lined up – Dunkin’ Donuts style!

We got a half a dozen. Tobias got a classic (chocolate with vanilla cream), nougat, and caramel crunch, and I opted for a marshmallow, a monkey nut (banana split), and a classic. Let me tell you, it was really hard to make a decision, but I know I’ll be back to try more flavors! They’re delicious! My marshmallow one even had a few mini marshmallows on top (which slid down to the middle in transport). Mmmmm!

AND to make life even more perfect…THEY. HAVE. CREAM. SODA. This is a huge deal to me, because cream soda is one of the things you can’t really find over here, and it’s one of my favorites that I miss.

So you can bet that I’ll be going back there sometime! You can even order donuts online, and if you get your order in by 6 p.m., they’ll be delivered the following day. (Of course, the minimum order is 24 donuts, so it would have to be for a big party, and not just your normal breakfast!) The neighborhood I live in is also close enough to get free delivery! Sweet! I’m thinking…wedding day breakfast?


Inflatable Canoeing

15 07 2012

A month or two ago, Tobias and I bought an inflatable canoe from Lidl, one of the local supermarkets. And two weeks ago, we finally had good enough weather to take it out for a spin! So we packed it up, put on our flip flops and headed to the Alster, which if you will remember, is the big lake in the center of the city.

It took a while to set it up, but we got it together and paddled it out into the lake. The freedom!

Tobias did most of the paddling, since the boat only came with one paddle. And unlike a normal canoe, the inflatable one floats mostly on the surface of the water, making it a lot easier to tip over. We didn’t fall in the lake, but we had to be careful not to shift around too much because we didn’t want to get too wet.

We went out on a Saturday evening after a long day of scouring the flea markets for candlesticks for our wedding décor, and it was just a lovely, peaceful experience to be out there on the lake. And we had views of the city we’ve never had before!



Weekend flea marketing

18 06 2012

This weekend was the Altonale street festival in our neighborhood. We went out several times to see what was going on and to enjoy the sights. We listened to a samba drum group (very loud and energetic!) and went to our artist neighbor’s atelier to see some of his new art. But  mostly we took advantage of the flea markets on Saturday and Sunday and boy were we successful!

Although I LOVE flea markets, I much prefer thrift stores because of one silly little thing: I don’t have to ask the price of something. I’m (stupidly) deathly afraid of asking for a price at a flea market, and if there is any haggling involved, I absolutely hate it. Thank goodness Tobias is good at it and pretty much tries to haggle on everything just for the principle of it. So I let him work his magic while I stood next to him, feeling extremely awkward.

So thanks to all of Tobi’s work, we got some really great things!

Our first purchase on Saturday was a chandelier! We’ve been looking for a cool vintage chandelier for our living room and actually have it on our wedding website as one of our projects that people can contribute to as a wedding gift if they like. (So it’s technically our first wedding gift…?) It’s not hooked up yet and we don’t have any light bulbs for it, but we’ll be getting those this week and then we can hook it up. The lady we bought it from has a shop here in Hamburg and she offered to give us the bulbs for free. We really love it! We spent the rest of the afternoon taking it apart, cleaning the crystals, and putting it back together. It’s missing a few crystals, but hopefully we can get some from the lady as well.

We also found these silver candlesticks for 4€. Actually, it was the very last thing we bought on Saturday and we literally cleaned out our wallets to buy it for a little less than 4€. We’re going to use them in the wedding at the candle ceremony, but they’re cool enough to use at home afterward too! I wish we had gotten a before picture, because these were super-tarnished when we got them. Tobias cleaned them with hot water, a bit of salt, and a few pieces of tin foil and the tarnish disappeared! A pretty amazing trick, if you ask me!

Tobias found this old desk lamp and haggled to get 17€ off the price, bringing it down to 63€. Not bad. Tobias found similar ones online that dated it somewhere between the 1930s-1950s, and it was double the price we paid for ours.

On Sunday, we were lucky again and got some good deals! Like this Russian U-Boot (submarine) clock we picked up. The original price was pretty steep (120€) but we got it for 90€. Still an investment, but it is really such a cool thing. Very unique! It even comes with a key that you have to wind it up with every 2 weeks to make sure it continues running. It also weighs a ton and we have to figure out some sturdy way to put it up on the wall.

Close-up of the Russian words:

I also got a few books for the wedding decorations, AND I found this awesome biography of Balzac, written by Stefan Zweig. (I had no idea Stefan Zweig was interested in Balzac! I read Schachnovelle in one of my college German classes and later saw the play here in Hamburg. And Balzac is the author I wrote my honors paper on in college! If you want to hear me speak French, my presentation is here on YouTube!)

We also found some nice cufflinks for Tobias for the wedding.

I don’t think I’ve ever bought that much at a flea market before! But really as I said, it’s all thanks to Tobias. He has good taste! And these are all things (with the exception of the Balzac book) that we’ve been looking for for a while, so it’s nice to have found some good stuff!

Have you been to any flea markets lately? Find anything good?


À bientôt, Diane!

10 06 2012

My French friend Diane just went back to France yesterday after 6 months here in Hamburg. She had to go back to work on her master’s degree in architecture.

I’m sad she’s gone, because we hung out a lot and I really enjoyed her company.

Last Tuesday, she came over to my place for dinner and we made crêpes for dinner and dessert, we drank red wine, ate cheese, listened to music, and danced while cooking.

She’s coming back for our wedding in August and then will be here for 2 weeks in October, so that’s something to look forward to at least. And I may just have to take a weekend trip to Bordeaux to visit! (Hey, any excuse to visit France is a good excuse!)


Wedel and long weekends

29 05 2012

Whew. A nice start back to work after a long weekend. It was Memorial Day in the US, but thanks to the German celebration of Pentecost (Pfingsten, they call it), we also had a day off here. The weather even played along, so we took full advantage of it!

Tobias and I went to Wedel twice – took our bikes on the S-Bahn and headed out to the end of the line. That’s where the Welcome Point is for ships coming to the Hamburg port, and it’s a gorgeous area near the water and it even has a very nice beach area — much nicer than at Övelgönne — where you really get the feeling that you’re on vacation at the beach. God, I love living near the water!

And, to top it all off, Tobias and I found the perfect spot there where we could hang our hammock. Shaded under the trees, but still with a beautiful view of the harbor. We read, dozed and enjoyed watching the ships sail past and listening to the national anthems that were played at the Welcome Point whenever a new ship came in. We loved it so much on Saturday that we went back again on Sunday.

Life is good. Summer is here in Hamburg, even though it’s a bit chillier than what I would call summer, everybody’s breaking out the barbecues and sitting on the beach.

And good news! The painter finally finished up on Friday, which meant that we could finally spend some time getting the apartment back in order and our lives back to normal. It’s still not quite there yet, but we are already feeling a lot more zen about our clean[er] living space. Less clutter = more peace of mind. There was a thin layer of dust on everything, so it was a lot of intensive cleaning, but we saved it for Monday and then rewarded ourselves with an ice cream cone and spent the evening with friends down at the harbor and had a lovely evening of barbecue and frisbee as we caught the last few hours of sunlight.



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