Mosaic Face : Artwork inspired by Sicilian Carretto

carretto2
Stylish Icon  for Dolce & Gabbana : The Sicilian carretto 

If I didn’t start to wear glasses then I wouldn’t be able to discover about the wonderful artistic history behind the Sicilian Carretto. The Sicilian cart (or carretto siciliano in Italian and carrettu sicilianu in Sicilian) is an ornate, colorful style of horse or donkey-drawn cart native to the island of Sicily, in Italy. The cart has always been the symbol of Sicily and its traditions.

dolce-and-gabbana-summer-2016-woman-collection-61-1600x2240-copy
Dolce and Gabbana’s fashion inspired by the Sicilian Carretto

When I was looking for glass frames, I was immediately drawn to its unique & colorful design so I chose the D & G Sicilian Carretto glasses. I specifically love its colors and uniqueness, I think it gives more personality. Dolce&Gabbana pays homage to the Sicilian cart with a special Sicilian Carretto eyewear collection, of which only 100 numbered pieces have been produced. One of the best-known symbols of Sicilian folk iconography, the cart was created as a means of transport that responded to practical needs, but went on to be transformed into a vehicle for cultural transmission. Sculpture and painting were applied its various constituent parts to represent moments from the island’s history, or from epic stories or popular religion, creating valuable constructions that were genuine traveling works of art.

IMG_0508
My painting wears the Sicilian carretto hues!

And so it become an outlet for an inspiration for another mosaic painting that I did a few days ago. If you are following my Blog and my Aquarelle paintings, you can see that I love these type of patterns , details, and yes, the bright colors same as the intricate detail of the Sicilian Carretto craftmanship.

I spent  long hours doing this but I am happy of its result. This is my recent Artwork inspired by Sicilian Carretto. The one with toucans and with plaids and prints. Painted in 26 X 36 cm  ( 10 x 14 in ) Cold pressed, artist paper and with finest grade Van Gogh paints.

IMG_0564
Original Watercolor painting {Justbluedutchart}

IMG_0502

IMG_0515
Some of my favorite paintings for the series “Faces in the Crowd”

 

Another addition to my “Faces in the Crowd “series, the One with the Toucan and plaids & prints. Original hand painted watercolor painting.

IMG_0510
The One with Toucan with Plaids & Prints { Justbluedutchart}

Just like the artistic tradition of the Sicilian carriage, or carretto Siciliano, which is applied to many objects in Sicily as a matter of nationalistic pride, I would always look back on this painting as a symbol of a colorful image showing the many facets of a female face.

 

Thank you for taking a look at my work. Tell me, what can you say about this painting?

 

If you enjoyed this post, make sure to visit and add me in your Instagram and follow Justbluedutchart to see more of my original Aquarelle paintings. If you like and interested to purchase, please let me know through email at justbluedutch@gmail.com.

Tschüss Wochenende! Have a lovely week ahead!

 

The Streets of Nuremberg

IMG_0254
Wandering in the streets of Nuremberg, Germany

Isn’t it  good to be out and have a short trip once in a while? There’s something about getting lost in a new city. Wandering through the unknown alleys, skimpy streets , clueless, and  eager is a feeling that is familiar to all travelers, backpackers and curious wanderers. There is always the mixture of excitement and ardent anticipation to see what is beyond over there, maybe on the look for a surprise, or even wishing for your imaginations to be real. Can you relate?

IMG_5820

Let me share with you our wanderings in Nürnberg, the second largest city in Bavaria. Nuremberg is a 950-year-old city with romantic flair, drawing in heritage buffs, foodies and artistic souls alike and yes, a haven for the little ones as well.

IMG_0396
Street sightings, intricate details

We decided to skip the museums since my daughter will surely get bored in it and since its a nice weather, we opt for more outdoor activities. But walking through the streets of Nuremberg ( or Nürnberg as the locals referred to ) offers anyone a great kaleidoscope of history, arts, and charm. It is impossible not to stop and take a closer look because there is so much detail to ponder about, making me think what is it all about. For the record, Nuremberg was once one of the most important residences of the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire and has an almost completely intact city wall. The distinctive pink stone gives the city a fairy tale atmosphere.Its not everyday that I see a city with a palace on a hill, the Kaiserburg, or the Imperial Palace looms in the view the moment you start to wander in the Haupmarket,so that must be very distinctive.

IMG_0397
Local art gallery

Do you also find  it fascinating to follow the current of the river while sightseeing? I find it so relaxing to have a few moments of peace while admiring the Pegnitz river , and when I turn my head around, I see the rows of cafes, filled with chattering tourists, and the streets filled with clash of cultures. There are two bridges, Museumsbrücke  and Fleischbrücke , crossing the Pegnitz river to the Hauptmarket .The main street north from here, Burgstrasse, runs up to the skirts of the beautiful castle which we managed to climb – the Kaiserburg. This is something we never regret despite the uphill part because we had lovely views up above the castle.

IMG_5821
Admiring the architecture and intricate details of the old and restored buildings.
IMG_0351
Getting lost in Burgstrasse,one of the busiest  street of Nuremberg

As we continue to explore, we head straight to the Haupmarkt ( Central Market), which is famous for the Christmas Market and Christkindlmarkt during Christmas season. This is a huge square with tons of sights to enjoy. On normal days, you can see a huge stalls of different local produce such as fruits, veggies, sausages, cheeses, honey, garden plants, souvenirs and so much more. There are so many street food as well. We bought some grapes and it was really good. On the right side of the square situated is the Frauenkirche, a beautiful church and you can never miss to see the Beautiful Fountain ( Shöner Brunnen).Aptly named “The Beautiful Fountain”, this is a major  highlight of the central market square in Nürnberg. It was designed in the 1380s by Heinrich Beheim, a stonemason, and was intended to top the Frauenkirche.It stands at an impressive 19 meters (62 feet) high and is bedecked in gold. There are 42 stone statues surrounding the fountain that depict allegorical figures, churchmen, electors and heroes. This fountain is always full of tourists trying to rub the copper ring  believing that your wishes can come true!

IMG_0349
The Frauenkirche and the Schöner Brunnen
Nuernberg-Brunnen-640x426
Wish I may, Wish I might…

Do you spot the precious ring?

IMG_5905
Das Narrenschiff or the “The Ship of Fools”

It’s a sunny day and we are eager to cool down, but knowing there is not much shops with Air conditioning in Germany, we decided to walk further to get ice cream then we found this  statue called “Das Narrenschiff” or The Ship of Fools. Children loves to swing in here,even adults, a famous meeting place. My daughter played here for a while so we spent an ample time looking at this bronze statue of a boat carrying seven people, a skeleton and a dog . It is planted in a main road, in an intersection, and catches the eye of travelers. Based on a popular sixteenth century book by Sebastian Brant, this piece was sculpted by Juergen Weber off of woodcuts by favorite Albrecht Dürer. This artwork shows an expelled Adam and Eve, their murderous son Cain and other violent figures. It is a scene showing the destruction of the world. Another fascinating fountain that we saw along the way and everyone should not miss is the Ehekarussell, or the Bitter sweet Marriage Carousel.This is my favorite so far.

IMG_5896

As part of discovering the local culture, you’ve got to taste the local food as well. With all the walking that we’ve done, it is imperative to eat. As I wrote before that as a foreigner living in Germany, the amount of Sausages can be overwhelming! But then again, in a country known for its bratwurst, many German cities have their own specialty sausages, including Nuremberg. An authentic Nürnberger Rostbratwurst is made from low-fat pork enclosed in a lamb casing, twisted into sausages that measure from 7 to 9 centimeters long.Another must-see and must-try to do is shopping for some authentic Lebkuchen! Just going inside this store makes me hungry. I love everything about the dainty bakeshop of  Lebkuchen Schmidt.

IMG_5913
Delicious and authentic Lebkuchen and yummy goodies!
IMG_0356
Tourist’s mementos displayed in the Haupmarkt

If you love shopping, visiting Nürnberg won’t disappoint you. Wandering in the city center leads you to one busy shopping district line up with shops, and yes, it’s that time of the year to not miss the Summer Sales so you can give it a go.

IMG_5849
The busy streets with shops on both sides.

Once you get tired, you can always grab a bite and drink and sit in one of the cozy cafes alongside the road. Another wonderful pastime is just watching people and taste the local beer.There are plenty of restaurants, clean bathrooms, and even changing rooms for your little ones. One thing that disappoints me is that I didn’t find any play areas near the city proper. Maybe they are nearby but it seems that I haven’t seen any directions through it.

IMG_5826
Hustle and bustle in Nuremberg

 So much to see, so little time. I leave the rest for you to discover by yourself. If you love street art, you need patience. You need to explore further. To find good street art in Nuremberg is really hard. Best is to get lost completely then your chances are high to find some nice murals. If you are not the history and architecture buff, you can always hop on to other off-the beaten path attractions in this city.

Nuremberg, I will see you again sometime soon!

Have you seen Nuremberg? Do you think it’s a fascinating city?

If you’ve been there, what are the other cool things you can add to this list?

La Grande Schmierage V { Hall of Fame Graffiti Art Spray Party}

IMG_0581
Es lebe die Schmierage! 

All for the love of Graffiti Street Artworks !

IMG_0569
Hall of Fame Street Spray Art in Germany

Do you like Graffiti Art? Do you even think its an Art?

Fo a fact, I must say that from a point of view of an artist, you can never contain Art.

IMG_0585

Just like this 250- meter old boring walls of an underpass bridge that becomes a world spectacle of art, talent and spray bottle becomes the medium of artistic expression. I love how a simple place like wall bridges turns into a beautiful display of unique designs and artistic expression—all in a form of the rebellious GRAFFITI!

IMG_0598

This morning , we went with our weekly Wandertag and hop into our bikes. It’s a cloudy Sunday and we have high hopes that it won’t rain.On our way , we made a little detour and it was a lucky start I must say, because as we are approaching the underpass of Unserherrn, near Ringsee, we saw people gathering under the bridge and Graffiti Artists are already absorbed in their work. We made it into the “La Grande Schmierage V “, Hall of Fame, the biggest Graffiti Spray Party happening now in Germany!

IMG_0607

Yes, the boring underpass becomes so alive and colorful with all the life-size wall sprayed- artwork of the talented artists, it was like walking into a street gallery!

IMG_0608

Artists came from  different countries — from Montréal, Barcelona, ​​Moscow, Bergamo, Slovakia and various cities in Germany, also from top-class artists of the international spray scene. From yesterday,  1st of July, and today, they all meet in the so-called “Hall of Fame”  to redesign the 250-meter wall surface of the underpass bridge. 

Graffiti  is something illicit, more like a rebellious symbol of expressing one’s ideas through drawings, writing or scribbling on public areas. Not everyone like it. If someone sprayed on your beloved personal wall, I bet you might be furious. You can never call it an art, its more of an invasion of your private place.

IMG_0578

Spraying can be an assault and may cause  damage to property. Others find  lubrication and illegal spraying so invasive and illegal, whether for the sake of  so-called hip art form , it’s still  something vulgar and oppressive. But not so here in Germany, here in our region in Bavaria, Graffiti spraying is legalized. Legal Spraying and Graffiti Art has established itself increasingly in urban areas as an expression of lifestyle and worldliness .

IMG_0572

As early as 1995 the gray concrete walls of the railway underpass were cleared for graffiti by the city of Ingolstadt and the spraying in the Hall of Fame was legalized. Since then, the walls are constantly being sprayed again, the hall often changes its appearance – and still counts as one of the largest legal halls in Germany.

IMG_0599

Meet the Artists through their artworks!

They are bunch of normal, messy, hip-looking men and women you can see in the streets. But once they hold their Spray, the world is their audience. Notable artists for the 2017 Spray meeting are as follows:  Five Eight from Montréal, Saturno from Barcelona, ​​Kram from Barcelona, ​​Zmogk from Moscow, Verbo from Bergamo, Kaisy from Slovakia, Omsk from Saxony, Bond Truluv from Leipzig , Rusl from Constance and Dater from Koblenz. In addition, two sprayers from the partner town of Kragujevac are expected. 

You can see their full profiles Here.

IMG_0575

I am so thrilled that even though I don’t know them each by their faces, I have seen them in their spray action. They are really amazing and full of talent! I could watch their drawings and draw unlimited meanings. Once you see their work, you will never see the same “old boring walls”the same as before– it’s like they have brought something to life. People stop and take a look, and observe. These walls deserve a look. No wonder it’s an international event! Some of notable Graffiti work that are worth to see are Here. My favorite was the work of Inti, a giant Don Quixote mural in Quintanar de la Orden, Spain.

The La Grande Schmierage graffiti meeting was launched in 2008 under the organization  of the City Youth Initiative and in close collaboration with Boris Schmelter. The organization and support of the artists are located at the FRONTE79 Youth Cultural Center in Ingolstadt.

 

Do you like looking at street wall art? Which one is your favorite?

If you want to read more about the La Grande Schmierage, here are some useful links:

www.schmierage.de

www.tumultfestival.de

 

One for the kiddo : Tiergarten (Nürnberg Zoo)

IMG_0195
My daughter is mesmerized by the azure blue waters and swimming seals inside the Blue Salon 

Do you like going to the zoo?

I didn’t know that once you have a child, you will appreciate the Zoo! Second to  playgrounds, the zoo is a place that we have learned to enjoy with my daughter.

IMG_0188
Entrance to the Blue Salon where you can see face to face the graceful swimming Sea cows or Manatee!

I think I’ve only been to a zoo a few times, I can count them, nothing special, more like an educational trip for school, or when I visited the Kuwait Zoo to kill time . The fondest memory maybe is  when my husband is visiting the Philippines and I decided to take a quick look at the nearby  Manila zoo ( because it’s on our way ) but then, while I was busy with my phone, a bird suddenly drop a bomb on my head. Oh yes, I was completely covered with bird poop! What an amazing zoo experience indeed!

IMG_0220
It was nice to meet you Bears!

Anyway, we finally made it to Tiergarten Nürnberg last weekend. This is the first zoological Park that I’ve seen here in Germany.  Last Spring, my daughter had a blast in the Petting zoo inside the Keukenhof Gardens and she can’t wait to see much more. She’s very into animals and she knows each of them by heart, both in English  and Deutsch! From the central station in Nürnberg, we took the Tram # 5 going to Tiergarten and within 10 minutes, we are at the gate of the zoo.It was only 9:30 in the morning and yet the zoo started to get crowded. We decided to come early since she will have her  midday nap and I know she can be a handful when she is cranky.

IMG_0388
Tropical flowers adorn the tropical Manatee house inside the zoo

 

Nothing but nature 

The moment we stepped inside the zoo, I was amazed by how green it is. So many trees and its like walking in a wild jungle park. We had lots of walking to do inside so shades from trees are a heaven! I love that the park has a natural lay out inspired by nature and the animals are kept as in their natural habitat as possible. The zoo was well-kept, maintained, clean, and easy to navigate.

I love walking into their Tropical forest  ( Manatee House) where its a replica of a tropical jungle where you can observe the Manatees  ( Sea Cows ) swimming under your feet.They are sooo huge and seeing them under your feet is a bit creepy. It’s a first time for me to see such animal. I even saw some plants that only grows in tropical climate like what the Philippines have. So many mature stock of trees, idyllic mixed woods and natural landscapes make this zoo one of the most beautiful zoos in Europe, at least from my own impression. Exotic animals live in harmony right next to a range of local bird species and mammals, and the craggy sandstone rock formations make generous natural enclosures for many animals where they can climb and relax.

IMG_0428
Watching the Giraffes having their breakfast
IMG_0389
A camera-shy Zebras

Now I understand why they say that whoever has experienced the wide variety and idylls of Nuremberg Zoo will come back again. The elegant movements of the dolphins and sea lions in the dolphin lagoon, the tropical atmosphere in the manatee house and the feeding of the polar bears in the Aqua Park provide an unforgettable experience.Compared to the Sea Life in Munich where we see more varieties of sea life animals but then it was  in a close area and a bit claustrophobic for me.

As expected, my daughter enjoyed watching all the animals. Too bad that we didn’t have the chance to see all the others and the rest of the zoo. It is a spacious zoo, built on top of a hill, with lots of areas to wander,  so it means lots of climbing. We went to each animal’s places but they seemed to be hiding in their cribs. Maybe its the heat? or napping? I don’t really know why but I find it rather disappointing especially when we are all excited to see the Lion’s den. All we found in the cages are the meat. On the other hand, the Zoo was so large that I don’t have the energy anymore to explore it and see it all. My daughter starts to get cranky and needed to recharge.

IMG_0381
A bird sitting on its nest

 

A lovely Surprise : The Aqua Park and the Manatee House

We chose to go to Nürnberg zoo because we wanted to see the Dolphin and Sea Lion show, and that is something that we really enjoyed. The show runs simulatenously with   feeding times at 11 a.m , 2 p.m and 3:30 p.m . .The open area has wooden benches where viewers can have a full-vista of the show. I must say that the training for the dolphins & seals are incredible and that was one great show! Nuremberg Zoo is very well-known for its sea cows, the manatees and the Dolphin show.  In the Manatee House, these gentle giants can be observed under water. The generous dimensions of the tropical house provide a colourful and diverse environment for sloths, turtles, butterflies, monkeys and numerous tropical plants. Beavers, otters, penguins, sea lions and polar bears are also at home in the Aqua Park, an extensive water landscape interrupted by a variety of small islands.

IMG_0380
A very lively Dolphin show !

You need an ample amount of time to explore and see all 3,295 animals from 292 species that can be seen at the Zoo. Yes, that is a LOT. I read that the zoo moved from the Dutzendteich to Schmausenbuck to make way for the Nazi Party Rally Grounds and during World War II, more than 90 % of the facility was damaged, actually Nuremberg was heavily bombed during the war. I am glad that we were able to see the  Dolphin lagoon and show which is actually the first outdoor lagoon for dolphins and sea lions in Germany. Good thing to know as well that the Nuremberg Zoo participates in 46 international breeding programs and is a partner zoo of the Species Conservation Foundation.

IMG_0372
Dolphin Show

 

IMG_0379
Amazing Dolphin performance!
IMG_0223
Beer garden inside the Zoo

We took our break and had lunch in one of the Beer garden up in the hill. It has a play area beside it so while waiting for our food, my daughter was running up and down again. I find the food simple, nothing special but its a great place to have a breather from walking.

 

IMG_0400
Souvenir shop for the little ones.

There are many souvenir shops, restaurants and adequate bathrooms inside the zoo so I find it really convenient. We got a cute camel souvenir with engravings since it reminds us of the stuff toy we’ve got in the Scientific Center in Kuwait.

If you have an active kids like I do, I highly recommend to check out this place. It’s for all members of the family and a great way to spend the weekend, but like I said, just be prepared to walk and walk.

 

For Admission Fees, you can find more information Here .

Other highlights of a day trip in  Nürnberg :

The Ehekarussell or the Bitter Sweet Marriage Fountain

Kaiserburg ( Imperial Palace)

 

Free Bird | Transient

IMG_0401
I am a free bird just having a pit stop for another adventure

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on, now
‘Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see
But, if I stayed here with you, girl
Things just couldn’t be the same
‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now
And this bird you can not change

{ Free Bird // Lynyrd Skynyrd}

I love this song, it’s an oldie but goodie and I thought that it goes perfect with this photo I took from our trip in Nürnberg last weekend. We were waiting for the Dolphin show and we saw these small birds kept on perching on the rocks in front of us. Eager as they seemed to be, but nonetheless a wonderful sight. From time to time they wait for little children to feed them, but with a blink of an eye, they are gone, off to their new destination. Indeed there are too many places to see, too little time, but with the free bird, it’s just one pit-stop to another adventure!

This post is inspired by this week’s DP Photo Challenge | Transient

My Rainbow Cake

Rainbow-Layer-Cake-Final
Baking from Scratch : My first Rainbow Cake

I will tell you something about what happens when you celebrate your Birthday in Germany :

Did you know that for Germans, it is considered as bad luck if you greet someone ahead  of their birthday? Oh yes, there is no such thing as advance birthday greetings ! By extension, a birthday party can never happen before the day itself, unless it’s a certified case of Reinfeiern, or “partying into your birthday” at midnight. The reason behind never saying happy birthday before the event is the superstitious worry that the person might die before their special day if you do. I told you, its kind of bizarre.

Also, the moment you give the present to the person celebrating the birthday, He or She will immediately open it in front of you, there’s no such thing as piling the gifts as customary in the Philippines. There are no lavish birthday bash either, heavily decorated-themed parties or costume party for the little ones,  nor food-coma. In short, no stress.  Sounds like the perfect birthday party after all, right?

 

It is not very common that someone give you a cake on your birthday.  Nope, you are the one who needs to buy it from the shop or make it by yourself. There’s not much bake shop here where there are arrays of ready-made cakes to choose from. On the first year of my daughter, we bought her a cake every single month! Yes that’s how vain I was, actually I did it all for her monthly photo sessions! Here in Bavaria, more often that you find those frozen cakes in the supermarkets like the infamous Black forest cake . I remember that in Kuwait and Philippines, it’s quite normal to give a cake as a present, more like a surprise, and a personalised present to the celebrant. On the other hand, Here in Germany,  expect to bring the cake once your colleagues drop the bomb “Alles gute zum Geburtstag “! Or better, bring on some few bottles of beer and curry wurst!

But we prefer, Bring on the Geburtstag torte! There’s no getting old about blowing some candles on top of your cake, especially if it’s on top of a RAINBOW CAKE!

rainbow-birthday-cake_large
Easy 6 Layer Rainbow Cake

Mind you, for the past months, these are just one of the things that I have observed here in Germany about birthday celebrations. Germans love to give best wishes on birthdays and will reward you with warm greetings, hand-made cards which I absolutely adore, and gifts. They are serious people but also very sweet. Different, but nevertheless good. Anyways, going back to my Cake talk, for the record, 4 days ago was my birthday.

Hooorraaahhh for another year!

So I thought it might be a great idea if I made a  post about the cake that I’ve bake, after all, what is  birthday without a cake???

FullSizeRender (2)
It’s a heavy thing!

I was really  looking forward to make my first “Rainbow  Cake”, YES, for the reason that when I asked my daughter what she wants on her 3rd Birthday, she blurted out to me in her sweet voice : “Rainbow cake! “ and so I searched how to do it. She’s very into colors nowadays but still I wonder where did she got this idea! I had a hard time looking for the baking ingredients especially the food coloring here, but finally I got what I needed from REWE .  I indulge myself in making this colorful, artsy, delicious cake. Quite challenging but then I enjoyed making this one since my little girl helped me out.

IMG_0151
Baking from Scratch : Rainbow Cake

The soft, delectable buttermilk cake with vanilla frosting is perfect for a birthday treats and sure it was a hit for my family and friends. The layers of different vibrant colors in one fluffy cake  is such an attractive centerpiece and my daughter is so happy when she saw the pre-baked cakes in red, orange,yellow, green, blue and violet shades. She just kept on singing “yummy , yummy ” when she was spreading the frosting on each layer. After I’ve made this cake, I realized that everyone deserves to have at least one rainbow cake in their lifetime! Birthdays are such a happy occasion of celebrating life and looking at rainbow colors made me happy.

FullSizeRender (3)
Mama Challenge : Easy 6- layer Rainbow Cake

IMG_0147

Don’t get intimidated, it might looked so complicated but  something that I’ve never done before so I was determined to try it. You just got to have the right ingredients and equipment and you’re all set. Easy-peasy. The reason why I wanna share the recipe of my Rainbow Cake because I find it really good and anyone can make it, especially for busy Mamas out there who wants to make a surprise to their kids. It is not complicated as it seems to be. I have received comments like “Did you really make that?”or “How did you make all those layers? “ Isn’t it too complicated ? I’m going to give you an answer — It’s worth to try this cake, it is so good that I think I’m a convert now to a Rainbow Cake maniac!

If you have time and want to try making this colorful cake, Here is my own version of an easy 6-Layer Rainbow Cake.

FullSizeRender (4)
The Final touches, whipping out with heavy sprinkles and jelly beans!

A sidenote: If you wanted a tall cake or depending on the size that you want, you can double the amount of ingredients to create the size and thickness of the cakes that you are going to make.

EASY 6- LAYER RAINBOW CAKE

INGREDIENTS :

2 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, softened

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract ( I used vanillin sucker)

1 cup Buttermilk

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

3 cups all-purpose flour ( I used Type 405 Weizen mehl)

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Food coloring : Red, Yellow, Blue, Green and Purple

For the vanilla frosting:

12 oz. cream cheese ( I used Philadelphia, classic)

1 1/2 cups butter ( softened)

6 cups powdered sugar ( I reduced the amount to 3 cups only)

1 tsp. vanilla extract ( I used 2 packs of vanillin sucker)

INSTRUCTIONS :

  1. Preheat oven  325 deg. F. ( or 162 C).
  2. Grease and flour 6 pcs. cake pan ( 9″ (23cm)  cake pans ). I only have 3 pans so I did two rounds of baking the cakes.
  3. In a bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until all blended using a hand mixer.
  4. Mix eggs until thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Add vanilla, buttermilk and the heavy cream.
  6. Mix  the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.
  7. Put into the sugar /butter mixture half of the flour mixture and mix well until all ingredients are well blended. Add the remaining half of the flour mixture gradually.
  8. Divide the batter into 6 bowls ( 1 cup each).
  9. Add the food color to each bowl starting from red, yellow, green, blue and purple. Tip : To create a vibrant rainbow cake, make sure to put a good amount of coloring to create a lively color. For orange, add a vibrant yellow and add drops of red. For purple, combine red and add drops of blue.
  10. Pour each colored batter into the prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
  11.  Bake for 10-15 minutes in the preheated oven. Do not over bake.
  12. Cool down the cake in the cooling rack.
  13. While cooling down, make the cream cheese vanilla frosting.Cream the cream cheese and butter using a hand mixer.Add gradually the powdered sugar and vanilla.
  14. Spread the frosting on the cake, first on Purple,blue,green,yellow, orange and finally the red cake.
  15. Place a thin coat of icing to create a crumb coat and decorate as you please. You can add some colored rainbow sprinkles, jelly beans.
  16. Chill the cake for a few minutes to hold the cake together with all the frosting.
  17. For the icing, just whipped egg whites and powdered sugar until forming stiff peaks and spread out evenly to coat the cake for decorations. You can also coat it with colored icing as you please.
  18. Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on your back for a job well done! Enjoy!

 

Just in case you are wondering about the Calorie content,  I must answer: What are you talking about? 

I leave you with a virtual piece of this fabulous cake. Thank you for reading and wishing everyone a great week ahead!

So tell me, do you have any weird Birthday traditions?  or have you ever made your own Birthday Cake? Feel free to share it in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

Kaiserburg Nürnberg ( Imperial Castle )

 

FullSizeRender (13)
The Sinwell tower of the Kaiserburg ( Imperial Castle) in Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany

I love everything about castles!

For an asian like me, I think castles are symbolic emblem of  magical kingdom and it is such an adventure to get to know the stories behind each castle .Just like any enthusiast, every castle is unique and the architecture is unfathomable.It always excites me but considering the heavy ” historical stuff ” that goes with any castle exploration, I love the fact that I get to know a place through these landmarks.I can still remember my delight when I saw the Burg Eltz in Wierschem.  

It was  one fairy tale trip as I explored the castle while I wear my daughter in my chest. This time it was another adventure with the toddler on the loose. After an exhausting morning at the Tiergarten, we find ourselves wandering along the city center towards the street that directly heads to the castle grounds. But to explore any castle, it’s always include a steep climb, a hike, or a strenuous walk to get into the top. It is impossible to push the stroller up while she’s in so  I just let her climb, strut, and toddle up. It was hot, and the cobbled stones makes it even more difficult, but then, there’s no way we give up.

IMG_0294
Up in the castle offers a panoramic view of the city where I sighted the towers of St. Lorenz church, Frauenkirche and other important landmarks of Nuremberg.

The historical “Kaiserburg” also known as the  the Imperial Castle of Nuremberg is the most important symbol of Nuremberg. Though this city was heavily bombed from WW II, the city has restored most of its iconic structures including this castle. Just like any other castle, this castle holds an important part of history. This castle is in fact one of the most important fortresses in the whole of Germany and was first mentioned in 1105. From 1050 to 1571, all holy Roman Emperors resided in this castle. One of the largest and most modern youth hostels in Germany is located in one of the former Imperial stables.

IMG_0340
The Sinwell Tower as seen from the castle grounds
IMG_0322
Echanting Nuremberg

After seeing this, I marveled at the charm of Nuremberg and I was deeply impressed by its beauty. This place is an incredible city. It’s a big metropolis where the defining moments of German history took place. This castle is perched on a hill which really gave me a great view and the tour information was just adequate to provide any tourist the information about Nuremberg during Medieval times. I’m so glad that despite the heat, the weather is perfect for us to appreciate this castle. If you have time and with only 7 Euros entrance fee, you can learn so much more about its history and the Museum inside the castle is something to satisfy your curiosity.

FullSizeRender (10)
The Wellhouse and the Bath House

If you live in Germany like me, well there can’t be too many castles, because in real life, they are sprouting like mushrooms. Some in the middle of the forest, some on a high hill, mountain or in the banks of the river, some are just there, a few stones throw in a city just like the Kaiserburg in Nürnberg.I read an interesting excerpt about this castle’s history HERE.

The castle and the city served as the location for numerous imperial assemblies. From 1356 on the “Golden Bull” of Emperor Charles IV provided that every newly elected future ruler must hold his first imperial Diet in Nuremberg. Moreover, from 1424 the imperial regalia were safely kept in Nuremberg. Nuremberg was a very popular residence for the rulers in the age of the itinerant kingships and up until the 30 Years’ War it was the central location of the empire.

Some of the notable sites that we’ve seen in this Castle are the following;

IMG_0288

Deep Well and Sinwell Tower

The Deep Well is spectacular. The well house is located in the center of the outer Bailey. The shaft of the well was hewn into the rock to a depth of 47 meters. A highlight of the visit is also the round Sinwell Tower (“sinwell” Middle High German = very round), which was built as a keep for the Imperial Castle in the 2nd half of the 13th century; the topmost storey and the interior wooden roof construction were built in the 1560s.

IMG_0346
Beautiful gable roofs and the important landmarks seen from above the castle.

 

Magnificent View over the City Imperial Castle Museum

Who says you need to pay a lot for a magnificent view?

If given the chance, I always love to see a city from above. A view like this from the castle is always worth of the sweat. From the observation platform of the Sinwell Tower at a height of 385 meters , you can also have a panoramic view of the entire city of Nuremberg just like this!

IMG_0298
Wandertag in Nuremberg’s Imperial castle.

Imperial Castle Museum

In the Kemenate, (a building with residential and work rooms heated by fireplaces or later stoves) the Germanisches Nationalmuseum presents the historical role and the changing tasks of the Nuremberg Imperial Castle. Finds from archaeological digging, ornamental architectural elements, models and reconstruction sketches illustrate the history of this important site.

If you are planning to visit Nuremberg this summer and would like to visit this castle, make sure to take note of the following especially if you have a child , pets with you or with elderly people;

There is a lift to the Knights’ Hall in the Palas; all other rooms in the Imperial Castle can only be reached via stairs.

The inner castle courtyard is accessible for wheelchair users.

At the entrance to the Deep Well there is one step to be negotiated.

Castle Gardens: Access via 3 steps, apart from that no difficulties.

Maria Sibylla Merian Garden: Access via 5 steps.

IMG_0277
My Little Wanderer in the castle grounds !

Dogs are not allowed inside the castle (also Deep Well and Sinwell Tower) and in the gardens (Castle Garden and Maria Sibylla Merian Garden). They may be taken on leads into the castle courtyard.

When was the last time you’ve explored a castle? How was your experience?

As for the other charm of this castle, I leave you to explore it by your own eyes.

 

Stay tuned for more of my stories about our trip to Nürnberg. Happy Monday and wishing you all a great day!

Hey, If you are in Instagram, make sure to follow my Instagram to see our Expat life in photos  here in Bavaria and have a look at my personal Artworks and Aquarelle paintings HERE.

 

 

 

Bitter- sweet Marriage Carousel Fountain in Nürnberg

a1
The “Ehekarussell ” fountain in Nuremberg depicts the tyrannical symbolism of the ups and downs of Married Life.

Have you guys been to Nuremberg?

I’m going to share with you with my series of posts about my travel experience in the second largest city in Bavaria, Nuremberg. This city is known for the  home to Europe’s first printing press – and astronomy , Nicolaus Copernicus’s  and his most famous work  that was published  in 1543! I tell you, this city is more than its delicious Lebkucken and Nürnberger sausages. Let’s start from what caught my attention while strolling in the busy, very touristy inner city of Nürnberg.

a7
The Marriage Carousel created by Prof. Jurgen Weber, according to a poem by Hans Sachs in 1541: “Bitter-Sweet Married Life.

 

Nuremberg city is a very walkable city. Most of the attractions are on walking distance from each other and I noticed immediately that the city is heavily ornamented with intricate details of houses and buildings, statues, monuments, fountains and impressive artwork. So impressive considering that it was heavily bombed from WW II. There’s so much to see, the streets are so alive.

a9
Giant granite heart containing the lines from the poem by HANS SACHS, 1541 about Ehekarusell.

We start exploring Nürnberg by foot last weekend, and I immediately love its city vibes. No wonder it’s a hub for tourists!  I saw  this fascinating fountain in front of Weisser Turm called the “Ehekarussell”. If you can read German, you can see the engravings in the giant marble heart at the foot of the fountain which tells all about what are these statues  for.The text of the poem can be found within the fountain, it is incised on the granite heart that points towards the tower. HANS SACHS describes the ups and downs of marriage; his wife is sometimes the angel, sometimes the devil to him, just like in movies, but his description are rather lucid, and some find them so vulgar. Anyway, an artwork that makes a lot of noise and controversy has something, that’s why its being talked about!

The streets were full of tourists, crowded, hot and very alive. We were rummaging ourselves through the crowd and then there’s a rally going on in front of the busy shopping area .This fountain is really extraordinary and very vulgar in its sense. At first I was captivated by the great artwork. The artist created a masterpiece with fierce facial expressions and I can see the enormous detail on each statue.

a6
The woman busy feeding her children depicting one serious stage in married life.

 

The “Marriage-Merry-Go-Round” was erected directly in front of the White Tower in 1984.The work, created by Jürgen Weber, relates to the poem “Bitter-Sweet Married Life” by Hans Sachs, who in bold words described marriage from the first stages of ardent love leading to exhausting marital rows right through to the deathbed. It’s kind of disturbing, especially when I saw the statues with skulls and almost skeleton. I even thought that its morbid at first glance. They say that art should please the viewer, but then a sight like this needs a deeper interpretation.

ehekarussell 1

The Marriage Carousel created by Prof. Jurgen Weber, according to a poem by Hans Sachs in 1541: “Bitter-Sweet Married Life.

The Marriage Merry-Go-Round (Carousel) fountain is an interesting and controversial work. Situated in a pedestrian shopping area next to the White Tower, it was built-in 1984 at a high cost.The large fountain, a dramatic portrayal of married life from courtship to death, was part of the storm wrought by the design.

IMG_0367
A man was cooling down in the cool  waters of the Ehekarussel fountain in Nuremberg

My daughter was so busy trying to dip her feet in the water while me & my husband study each statue. I saw so many passers-by doing the same, eating ice cream while sitting in front of the fountain, probably trying to cool down because of the heat. In my opinion, this  sculpture attempts to describe the sweetness and tribulations of married life that Sachs describes in his poem. The couple progress through life as beautiful happy young people, change into older people with attitudes, and finally turn into skeletons.

Ehekarussell 2
A close up shot of the tragic end of the horrors of marriage like strangling to death.

Hans Sachs described the various stages of marriage from ardent love through exhausting struggles, ending with the death-bed. The fountain’s sculptures reflect this text in all its beauty and horror, while Hans Sachs is depicted dancing above a goat and a virginal beauty.

It might appear so negative in a sense that the sculptor seems to specialize in the horrors of marriage with couples strangling each other; couples where one is huge and stuffing her face, while the other is starving and skeletal; couples surrounded by demanding children; couples where one wants to be quiet and the other is blowing a trumpet in her face.

fontana2

Weber selected six scenes from Sachs’s long list. He designed a roundabout with six carriages, each in the shape of an animal that matches the scene:

– the loving young couple in the swan bed

– the older man holding his wife in chains, tearing off her dress, seemingly ready to take her by force

– eternal fighting of an old, almost skeleton-like couple on a giant lizard

IMG_0248

– the caring mother feeding her children in a pelican who, referring to an ancient Christian legend, tears open her breast to feed her offspring with her blood

– the fat woman devouring cake after cake and her desperate skinny husband, carried by a wolverine (in German: “Vielfraß”)

– the young beauty, rising from a shell-like Aphrodite, and the admiring trumpeter and the billy-goat that represents the lust.

IMG_0250

 

On top of the sweet corn cob, Hans Sachs the poet is shown dancing. The nymph of the fountain is kneeling in the water basin below. The rose column on the opposite side shows the names of the artist and his second wife.

If you are visiting Nuremberg, this huge fountain won’t miss your eyes. It sits right in the middle of the main road with a tower behind it and it is right before you get to Elisabethkirche and St. Jacob’s Church. Make sure to take a closer look and try not to rush only for selfies.

For me, fountains like these makes strolling even more worthwhile. The story behind each artwork is something to ponder and not just built as a stumbling block.

What can you say about this fountain? Do you like it or not?

 

Stay tuned for more of my stories about our trip to Nürnberg. Happy Monday and wishing you all a great day! If you are planning to visit Nüremberg, you might be interested to check out the Ehekarussell,  Imperial Palace or the Kaiserburg and the wonderful Dolphin show in their Tiergarten.

Hey, If you are in Instagram, make sure to follow my Instagram to follow our Expat life adventures here in Bavaria and have a look at my personal Artworks and Aquarelle paintings HERE.

 

 

 

 

The Heat is ON in Bavaria

IMG_9945
32 degrees today! What Summer feels in Bavaria

This is the real thing now, the heat is ON in Bavaria !

What Summer fun are you engaging now?

Nevermind  the plague of Wasps and bee season, summertime is finally here and in Bavaria, in my old little city, everyone is just feeling ecstatic of the fine summer breeze, or rather, toasty winds since we have 32 degrees now!

IMG_0067
A very inviting Lake where we had picnic and splash. This is just one of our pit-stop from our cycling en-route (35kms) .

Have you seen summer flowers yet? They are blooming, giving us perfect backdrop for outdoors. From our garden to the nearby parks, summer flowers can be so exotic just like the Echinops Ritro!

I came to Germany last Summer, and I’m telling you, this season is probably the best season to enjoy Bavaria. To make the most of beautiful nature, lots of sun and water fun is essential. This week we have temperatures ranging from 18~32 degrees C . With this we have all the reason to spend time outside given the favors of so many holidays. Staying in when the weather  is perfect as this  is  definitely a S-I-N. Generally, Germans, or the typical Bavarians, adore the sun. Soaking up under the sunshine until the last ray of the sun until 9 o’clock at night. You can see them  sunbathing in the banks of the river Danube, lying in the grass in the parks, or just right in their balconies.

With the kick-off of the festival season, the Spring Pfingstenvolkfest,  Die Welt is bunt, Bürgerfest, and strawberry season, it feels like summer arrived early since we have a very sunny spring. I have written countless times that from the moment the day breaks, people here are out, (including US!) and ready to explore— and yes, with their dogs, clad in outdoor clothing, in their bicycles, with their walking sticks, off to the lake, and drinking beer in the bier garten promptly at 10 a.m on weekends!

So here I wanna share with you some of the fascinating things  about ‘Summer Feels ‘ here in our region. Whether you are just visiting tourist or a local, sure thing that you don’t wanna miss out on these activities!

IMG_9835
We do BBQ like the German way!

Grillsaison ( or Grilling season)

Summer is not complete without BBQ and Germans really take their grilling to the highest level! You know its summer when you breathe in the smell of BBQ in almost every house on a fine weekend. Since we have 9pm sunsets, this is a perfect way to bond. Be it in an open park, garden or in the tiny balconies of apartments, German take their grilling time seriously. Months before summer starts, we are flooded with different kinds of grill paraphernalia, from the garden tents, lounging seats, and yes, ‘the meat and wurst‘. About 70% of Germans have BBQ every  weekend and its typical to see a grill machine in every garden. Pack a picnic, a mat and  head to the lake, throw a piece of sausages ( wurst) and meat cuts into the charcoal grill and drink beer. This spells the perfect “Gemutlichkeit “or what the Dutch called “Gezelligheid” .

IMG_9837 (2)
The Grillsaison has finally begun!

Poppy fields  and wild flowers everywhere!

When summer time comes, in between wheat fields and every single empty space is filled with this fragile reddish-orange wild Poppy flowers. When I run and cycle, I can’t help but to stop and just be amazed by how  these simple wild bulbs can change the whole neighborhood and the way I feel. Sure, Tulips are my favorite flowers , but then there’s something about a field covered in Summer poppy blooms. It looks so calm, peaceful and so pretty!

IMG_9751
Close up encounter with red Poppy flowers last week when I was cycling.

 Eis Eis Baby! 

Who doesn’t like Ice Cream?

Ice cream parlors and shops are finally open here since late Spring. On warm, sunny days, there’s even a huge line outside. You really need to sweat out first before you enjoy their wide selection of Eis ( ice cream). My daughter is crazy about the richly flavored popsicles and ice pops which comes out in watermelon, kaktus, and yogurt ice cream. One is not enough, eating ice cream is definitely a threat we always enjoy during summer especially after we are all sweaty from cycling around.

IMG_9548
Eis Eis Baby!

Make sure to eat “spaghetti eis”: We promise it’s only a stupid name. This concoction is really just a strawberry ice cream sundae with vanilla “noodles” and strawberry sauce with white chocolate flakes standing in for the cheese. Guten Appetit!

Sunbathing in a make-believe beach!

This is the photo of the Donaustrand, a place made to look like a beach beside the river. It is the platform located in front of the river Danube and facing the New Castle. During summer, this place is a magnet for Germans and all outdoor lovers to enjoy a relaxing time, especially during sunset. This is a place a for  open-air concerts and the ” Live Orchestra Nights” where you can enjoy live music, drinking with friends, and lounging in recliners and sunbathing like you are in the beach .This is such a cozy place.

IMG_9122
A shot I took while lounging in the Donaustrand and enjoying sunset drinks.

Hanging out your clean laundry outside

There is nothing like the smell of clean laundry, hung out to soak up the fresh air. Hang out your sheets before the drying racks take over your apartment for the winter.We have a huge space in the garden and I just love how the sun do wonders on the sheets! I love this since it really saves time from tedious long cycles of drying. Natural is always better!

IMG_9184
Skinny dipping in some lake

Skinny dipping and baring it All !

Oh yes, Germans are very liberal and no-nonsense people when it comes to nudity. In some lakes, there are areas which are particularly allotted for “nudist”. Here, people are no hang-ups in baring it all and soaking up the sun from dawn to dusk.Germans think nothing of stripping to sunbathe. They do it on beaches, by lakes, and in heavily frequented urban parks. It’s very common to see unclothed people on regular park lawns or topless on balconies. Germany is one of the few places in the world where naturism occurs not just in secluded areas, but in the heart of major cities. German-style public nudity, known as Freikörperkultur (or “free body culture,” and usually shortened to FKK), dates back to the 19th century; it’s not just an activity, but a culture intended to reshape behavior.

IMG_0054
Pack a picnic and your mat and head on to the secluded fresh lakes!

For some people who are not into this and for families with children, there are lots of areas in the lakes for them to swim.We love to discover lakes where my daughter loves to play and here, they are just plentiful!

IMG_9308
Running through the Lake with this view.

Fitness everyday

In summer, I see a lot more people getting active and staying fit. People do things “manually” and live more. They love to do things by themselves. Mowing the lawn, tidying up their garden, people here loves to do things—no maids or house helpers! People run and cycle no matter what the time and temperature. They walk more and use the car less as much as possible. With abundant jogging areas, nature can be best enjoyed while getting fit. Germans adore the  “pig”and heavy pork-lovers, but even if they sit in the Biergarten everyday and eat sausages, seems that they don’t get fat! Everyone looks so impeccably fit.

Summer Cocktail Drinks

IMG_9812
PROST!!!

It is very typical to see bunch of people hanging around in the lake, or in the park enjoying a nice picnic and sharing summer cocktails. Of course, the beer is always the easiest way to create a cozy gathering but cool drinks and smoothies are always something pretty special. When it comes to picnics, Germans can be proud of their lifestyle!

What about you, what do you love to do during summer?

There are more on this post so I think I will make a post #2! Stay tuned.

Strawberry Fields forever

IMG_5491

Long wait is over, Summer is finally here!

IMG_9801
Fresh strawberry bunches sold in the erdbeeren Punck-Bayern, Unserherren Fields, Germany

Did you know that Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen each Spring?

We can’t even get over with the ‘Spargelzeit’ (White Asparagus season) yet and now here comes the season of one of my favorite summer fruit : Strawberries  ( or Erdbeeren)! Since we had a sunny Spring, strawberries came earlier here in Bavaria. In Germany, it is very easy to distinguish what time of the year it is, just look at the seasonal fruits displayed in the shops and you’ll know. Strawberries and Raspberries are flooding the grocery shops, as cheap as 2.99 Euros for 500 grams! Last time, I bought a bunch of strawberries for only 1.99 Euros!

IMG_5482
A walk in the strawberry fields with a Toddler
So last Sunday, we decided to spend quality family time on a sunny Ruhetag by visiting the Strawberry fields and pick strawberries by ourselves. It was our first time to go in the fields so we are all excited!  I am so thrilled by this idea since I wanted to explore the strawberry fields here in Bavaria and for my daughter to pick strawberries by herself. All over Bavaria, from the start of Strawberry season,  there are so many fields are open, for locals and hungry-pickers to enjoy!  These yummy goodness fresh- tasting strawberries can be harvested over six or seven weeks. In the second week of May strawberries grown in tunnels in the open field reach the market, followed by strawberries grown under plastic by mid-May. And the season reaches its peak with regular open-field strawberries from the beginning of June. In July the greenhouses are prepared for the next season that can be harvested from the end of September to Christmas.

IMG_5504
On Repeat : Tasting , Eating, Playing 

IMG_5511
The best strawberries in town, fresh from the fields
We checked out the site of the strawberry Fields in Bayern and we discovered that there are so many nearby fields that are opened for public picking. There are also remnants of the White asparagus being sold in the stalls, but a wide supply of  raspberries, honey, Bio-eggs, and ice cream  are also available for purchase in the same fields. It was such a lovely experience and the weather is just right to pick them.Families with small children ran around the fields, old people with their buckets, picking with smiles on their faces, eating and just enjoying the early summer sunshine. What a delightful way to spend a Sunday morning!

IMG_5531
One of our handful picks, half were already eaten along the way!
Strawberries belong to the favorite fruit group in Germany; the 3.4 kilos of strawberries consumed per person last year are proof of that. They follow apples, bananas and sweet citrus fruits in the ranking of most successful fruit. And a representative survey showed that strawberries are a proud favorite of consumers between the ages of 10 to 25.

IMG_9846
Toddlers and Strawberries are always a perfect combo!

Stop and smell the strawberries! They are considered members of the rose family, they give off a sweet fragrance as they grow on bushes.

IMG_9822
Father and daughter bonding time!
We got more than 2 kgs. of fresh, juicy and super delicious strawberries and we headed home to have a Strawberry -coma weekend!

IMG_9828
Toddler life: Eating hay, rolling in the hay
You bet someone really had a great time in the strawberry fields. Going home covered in hay, smelled like grass and mouth-smothered with strawberries are a perfect way to end our trip! While cycling back home, I can’t help but to hum the song “Strawberry fields forever by the Beatles… ”

Will definitely check out the other fields next time so stay tuned for more of our Summer escapades!

What are your summer plans?

How do you enjoy the warm sunshine? Don’t be shy to share in the comments!