It’s my first time to celebrate the New Year away from home. Normally, we celebrate it at home, staying in with the family and watching fireworks. Not so this year.
We decided to go up high in the Alps and enjoy the view from above.
Well, even with an active 3-year-old toddling with us, then why not?
For a couple of weeks, and a week before Christmas, I felt so stressed out, I am like pulling the days to end to finally start the Christmas break. I had my Deutsch class up until the 22nd of December but I badly needed a holiday. I don’t care how long it is or where it is, I just want to be out and have a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, my daughter got sick, she caught a virus right after the other so she was really running on high fevers, coughs and colds. These lasted up throughout Christmas. It causes us a lot of stress and at the end of the week, I also got a nasty sore throat and I am not really up for the holidays.
We are blessed with a fine weather on New Year’s Eve when we climbed up the Schlick 2000 in Stubaital, in Fulpmes, a winter wonderland village, half an hour away from Innsbruck. Our family apartment has a wonderful view of the mountains as well and we enjoyed it in different views. I especially cannot forget how beautiful the last Sunset that I watched in Tirol.
Now who can’t say NO to this view?
I have seen another beautiful side of the Alps. The snow-capped mountains are really living gems of Austria. Looking at the cloudless horizon with the glistening mountain peaks and the serene atmosphere above makes this a whole new experience for me. Though I was really motion-sick while going up through the cable car rides twice to finally get up to the viewing area, my stomach has a nasty somersault while I looked down at the steep slopes. I couldn’t sit still while I hold my daughter’s tiny hands in between my hands.I am just so glad that it went so fast. I was feeling so sick !
This view is totally worth it! We found the top piste packed with Skiers and tourists. Young and old, clad in shiny, colorful winter garb, all set for an adventure in the slopes. Some are just lounging , enjoying the sun, sipping a beer, and probably napping. Well, yes, this place looks like a Beer garden up above 2000+ meters! My daughter was super thrilled to try on different sticks, helmets, and roll over the snow.We left Germany full of snow as well but I was not even happy about the sight of it. But here, I saw the snow with a different charm. It looks like the snow fun is waiting for us. I couldn’t get off my eyes to the gigantic mountain ranges full of snow in front of me. They are like giants, but I don’t feel small. The great thing about Innsbruck, it gives us the time to just relax and enjoy.
I personally love to just have a peaceful getaway up above the mountain and admiring the grandeur of the Alps. To reach as far as my eyes can see. I can cover with my thumb an entire village and follow through the clouds that shrouded the whole valley. Everything around me is just magical. A special winter pleasure.
This is how she learned to Ski!
I can do this !
When I looked at my daughter, all my worries are gone. I know it’s another year to face, another challenges, and yet, she made me feel brave to face everything. Remembering that she was crazy sick and finally back to wellness gives me enough strength. She deserves to catch the sun. She deserves the world! Also, I am super grateful that my husband brought us into another winter wonderland at the very start of the year. Austria will always be special for our family. This time, we never felt isolated there because we are only a few kilometers away from the vibrant city of Innsbruck. We could even catch a glimpse of it. From the windows of our apartment, we watched the fireworks and watch the lights danced in the mountains. It is totally different from the way I grew up celebrating the New Year!
Cheers to New Routes… New Possibilities.
We are ready to face the New Year!
Today also marked another special achievement for my Blog, Justbluedutch! It’s my Blog Anniversary with Word press. It has been 2 years now that I am sharing with this wonderful platform my life in photos, stories, adventures, my artworks, and my Expat Life. I have met great people here who have shared with me their life stories as well. Reading about their life experiences made me appreciate the beauty of Blogging.
I wanted to specially thank all the people who followed my Blog and gave wonderful comments. There are lots of genuine-kind hearted people who totally inspired me and appreciate my Artworks. It means a lot to me.
With the start of the new year, I hope you stay with me as I continue to write about my life experiences here in Germany .It has been a pleasure to share my life and adventures from my Expat Life with all of you.
Danke Schön! Thank you and Salamat!
If you like to connect with me and follow my Expat Life, please visit my Instagram page and also, if you love Art, you can check out my Etsy shop and get inspired by authentic, handmade, original Aquarelle and Acrylic paintings!
There’s no stopping time, five more days to go and its finally Christmas!!!
Aside from turning into a festive paradise because of the glittering and uniquely German Christmas markets, the appearance of the lovable Chocolate Santa Claus all over Germany is something that makes Christmas season here so so special. For me, this is absolutely new so I find it really fascinating. The first time I saw chocolate Santa Claus was last year and I think I have eaten chocolates here in Germany more than I have eaten in my entire life!
In fact, as early as October, most shops are loaded already with this sweet confectionery figure to anticipate the Sankt Nikolaus ( or Nikolaustag ) almost the same festive celebration in the Netherlands for the Sinterklaas. Add the exciting Advenskalendar which also comes with sweet threats along with it, this time of the year in Germany is all about the good kind of sweets!Ask any kid here and they all know Nikolaustag and the joy that comes with it. Every kid’s boots or shoe needed to be stuffed with this little sweet man dressed up in red robe among with other threats such as fruits and toys on Dec.6. Yes, Chocolate Santa Claus is simply a Chocolate, but in alluring figure of Santa Claus.One of the top-selling chocolate brands here in Germany like Lindt, shared their intricate process of how they are making this seasonal chocolate figureand how it stands out from the rest. I was surprised to find out that in Germany alone, they sell approx. 26 million pieces! Globally, they produce about 37 million Chocolate Santas annually. This includes the 10-ounce mini Santa Claus and a one-pound showpiece . Amazing, right!?
To make things extra special this year, I saw that one local shop here named Penny, even sells a limited edition of gay chocolate men, in tribute to LGBT ( Lesbian, Gay,Bisexual and Transgender) solidarity movement. Indeed, there’s a sweet chocolate for every gender!
Christmas without snow here in Germany is possible but Christmas without Santa Claus, is simply unimaginable.It’s a global thing! Turning the symbol of Santa Claus into a sweet piece of lovable figure then its a brilliant idea that becomes a unique tradition.
If you asked me, I love chocolates. All the time. How about you?
From my childhood favorites Toblerone and M&M’s, I think chocolates are also a great gift for any given occasion. I love receiving chocolates, its such a warm token to give to someone special.In Philippines,we never had this type of chocolate in a form of Santa Claus so for me, this is something new. As a child, it is a delight for me to eat an imported chocolate, especially the ones Swiss- made or from the States. The bonbons from Holland are also very good.The quality and taste is really something because of the Kakao content. My grandfather used to grind Kakao, and make it into Kakao balls with coconut and it’s simply delicious.We had real kakao hot drinks not the ones came from a bottle from supermarket. Nowadays, chocolate is not limited to Valentines Day.Everyday, you can buy it from stores whenever you want. It is loved by everyone, regardless of age. Here in Germany, I noticed that Germans love chocolates and are obviously chocoholics. If you see the amount of chocolates sold in shops, then you know exactly what I mean.
I found this interesting graph showing the World standing of countries when it comes to Chocolate consumption.This really give me an idea about chocolate madness.
Yes, in Germany, Beer is considered as a Lebensmittel (or a staple food like Bread ) and not an alcoholic drink because of the Beer Purity Law. But I was surprised to know that Germany is also a nation of chocoholics with annual consumption per capita amounting to 17.4 lbs. To quote an article from The Economist that said Germans spend nine billion Euros every year on chocolate, about the same amount that the Supporting Syria Conference in London in early February tried to raise for humanitarian support.
Come to think of it, Germans roughly spends 31 cents per day or about 2.16 Euros per week or 9 Euros a month on chocolates. But of course, this is something petty compared to the consumption of beer.
The chocolate consumption in Germany is high compared to other nations. With twelve kilograms of chocolate in any form (bars, candy, drinking chocolate etc.), Germany has the highest per-capita consumption in Europe, closely followed by the Switzerland with eleven kilograms. When I broke down the 9-billion figure, however, it really did not amount to that much. Divided by 80 million people, and averaging the price of a 100-gram chocolate bar at 1 euro, that is 112 bars per year. About two bars per week – frankly, most people I know in Germany easily eat that amount, I, myself included.My neighbor always showered my daughter with Kinder eggs and other sweet goodies.Though they love chocolates, the number of Obese person here is less compared to the ones I saw back then in Kuwait.
The chocolate tradition in Germany is very rich. From Santa Claus figures to the amusing Rabbit or Osterhase during Easter says it all.The late 1800s was the golden age of Chocolate production and consumption throughout Europe. Many cities and towns had competing chocolate shops with wonderful window displays filled with intricate, molded solid chocolate figures to entice hungry passersby. By this time, they had perfected the art of molding chocolate by using metal molds. When I am visiting different towns here, I found out that there is always a chocolate confectionery shop that stands in the middle of the main square or in the heart of the town.
Germans have the right and work hard to earn the prestige of making good quality choclates. The Anton Reiche Company began manufacturing the chocolate molds in Dresden, Germany during the 1870’s. They even designed and produced very large “show case” molds upwards of 3 feet tall for chocolate shop windows. Unfortunately, metal chocolate mold production in Europe all but ceased during WWII and was eventually replaced by plastic molds which became the material of choice by the 1960s. The “Chocolate Santa” was inspired by this tradition and it is really a perfect calorie-free gift for someone with a sweet tooth.
If you receive a Chocolate Santa Claus, I am sure it will make your day bright. The same thing goes with giving it away to someone dear to you.
Do you love chocolate Santa Claus? Have you ever tried it?
What are the unique Christmas threats you love?
Thank you for stopping by and enjoying this post.If you have some thoughts, please feel free to share it in the comments.Cheers for the coming holidays!
It has been revealed by Internations, and there’s no denying that Germany is probably one of the best place on earth to raise a family. I am a first- time parent and raising my child in a culture totally different from where I grew up with, has been the focal point of our expat move. Of course I know that all parents ,in general, desires the best for their child, and this is the reason why I wanted to share my personal experience why despite of the crazy weather and difficulty to learn the language, I think Germany is a better place to raise a kid and be a child!
You might be surprised, having a child is Germany seems more of a blessing, an enjoyable reason to defray the first-world country problems that weighs every family on a daily basis. With its excellent health benefits and support to parents, both financially & socially, raising a child here can be rewarding!
Raising an Expat child, which has windows to multiculturalism or rather, raising a Third Culture-Kid child in Germany is a privilege . Aside from the extensive leisure activities, safe environment, a more play-based educational system in the early years, every child has their own allowance up until they reached the age of 18.
My three-year old daughter has a monthly income of 192 Euros that goes to our German bank account paid by the German government. So simple as it sounds and yet so generous. When we came to live here in Germany and heard about this, we are extremely happy. Happy in a way that as parents, we all know that every single Euro matters when you are raising a child.Kindergeld is a great help to our family budget.It is granted as a tax refund, primarily to meet the constitutional rule that income is untaxable up to a child’s subsistence level.I am not talking about the amount itself, but as an expatriate parent like me, this amount is really something tangible, with this I can feel that the government “cares” about my child, and to every single child living here.
I am sure that I’m not the only one who is grateful for this. Although it seems to me that this country is an advocate of “Ordnung“( or order) and everything seems to be ruled by rules, I see that hard work really pays off. All taxpaying expatriate residents of Germany are, like Germans, entitled to Kindergeld if they have children. Also called as” Child Benefit“, the German government give all families, expats included, to help defray some of the cost of raising children. It can run from €190 to €221 per child per month, and is usually made by a fund transfer into a German bank account. We all know that raising a child is expensive. From diapers to milk, Kindergarten expenses and other essentials, plus the never-ending cycle of buying toys!
Just about any taxpayer living in Germany with children can get the Kindergeld, whether employed, self-employed or independent. You get it as a rule that until the children turn 18, though it can continue until they are 25 if they are still in school or meet other requirements for an extension.
This amount also varies depending on where region in Germany you are living.
Kindergeld amount 2017 (standard amount):
Child benefit for the first child: 192 Euros per month
Child benefit for the second child: 192 Euros per month
Child benefit for the third child: 198 Euros per month
Child benefit from the fourth child: 223 Euros per month The child benefit amount will be increased by 2 euros per child compared to the end of 2016 for 2017.
If you are a parent and planning to move to Germany or living here and about to have a baby, then this is good news for you! If you’re interested to know more about this, you can check it Here. I will share to you the steps we took for us to avail of this benefit. It was easy, smooth and practical in all sense. The child benefit application must be submitted in writing and signed. Note that all the forms will be in German . Applications may also be submitted by an authorized representative, who must submit a written power of attorney (for example by members of the tax-consulting professions). An oral application, for example by telephone, is not possible
Anmeldung ( Application) – Open to all family members. This is to prove that the family is living in Germany.
Birth Certificate : translations of them if they are not in English / German. If child is born in Germany, a birth certificate is issued separately to apply for Kindergeld, which should be attached in original. We translated my daughter’s Arabic birth certificate into Dutch & German languages because her nationality is Dutch. We also brought along the originals with the attestations showing it was legalized both from the German embassy in Kuwait and the Netherlands embassy there.
Take the Haushaltbescheinigung, and your passport to your local KVR/Rathaus (The place where did you registration/anmeldung)
Officer will verify the form and pay the applicable fee. You will be issued stamped Haushaltbescheinigung.
Put in the envelope:
Antrag auf Kindergeld (filled in)
Residence permit copy (Aufenhaltstitel)
Post it to the office of Familienkasse belonging to the city you live in !
That’s it. You will now get your Kindergeld in 3-4 weeks. Keep the letters from Finanzamt safely for future references.
More than the benefit itself, I am really grateful that my child is growing up in a place where the family oriented lifestyle is very high.When I am writing this post, I am not actually surprised that Germany is considered a great place to raise a child and live abroad. Generally speaking, Germany is an economically strong nation, it’s a hard-working nation, and it’s a nation where the people feel a strong pride in their country. Right from the beginning, from childhood, they feel important !
Back in my home country, we don’t have such things as child benefit. You as a parent is responsible to allot savings for your child. I grew up in a culture where there is an endless pressure on “getting rich” to be able to afford everything, seeing money as an achievement or a social standing. As a child, I don’t have such as this “benefit“. I have other siblings who, along with me, strive for all our needs to be met along with all other basic necessities.
I saw both the joys and misery of raising multiple kids and I realize the effect of poverty and the support from government, or the lack of it. Families with more children struggles to meet both ends.I think that beyond the cost, it is also the reason of advocating Family planning.
Kindergeld is a form of love. There’s so much love for children here in Germany that I cannot sum up in this post. I will try to write more in my next post about this. Anyhow, Children are special gift, with tantrums and all their screaming, and Yes, they deserved to be raised in the best way that we can give to them.
Have you ever had a “child allowance”when you were a child? How did it make you feel?
When I looked at this photo, I can’t help but to wonder what’s the compatibility relationship of Fire (Hou in Chinese) and Wood (Mu in Chinese) , being two of the most dominant elements. In most cases, as much as they appear to be, they are complementing each other.Wood, when consumed turns into Fire, but if you add Water ( Shui in Chinese), the liquid form of snow, then a breakdown happens. If you think of it, the Chinese Zodiac elements is a worthwhile subject to ponder, it is the basic of everything. The Five Movements, Five Phrases, Five Steps or Five States of Change embodies the changes we see every single day. Take for example , the seasons.
If you see them in your neighborhood, you know what these pile of logs means. The cold winter is coming so stacking up piles of logs for indoor fireplace is as adamant as shaking the dust from your well-kept winter wardrobe. It denotes the upcoming change that is bound to happen. It makes sense actually, before winter, there’s Fall. Autumn is the time where most trees loses its leaves, making it barren and almost dormant for any growth. It is the time to prune the trees and its branches. Some goes to better use, but the latter ends up as firewood. The word “Firewood” itself denotes a combined effort to make a state of change : Fire.
I took this photo from our holiday in Austria. As we walked through the bend, beside an almost frozen river, gazing towards the majestic Alps, I saw this cottage, with pile of rounded logs on its side. It is totally covered in snow. I thought ; why they aren’t covered properly? The spaces between the rounded logs creates a channel for the snow , making it like a mosaic. When I see something like this, of course, it calls for a good photography subject. One move of log from the middle could signal a change of order from top to bottom.
But then, who cares about the arrangement? They are all going to a common destiny : to be used as a firewood to create heat.
Even in the most common sightings, a state of change is evident. Maybe its pretty ordinary for you , but hey, I found some insights from this.
Have you learned an insight lately?
This post is inspired by this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge |Rounded
Hello November, but first, let me say my final Adieu to October.
I took a walk yesterday, the last day of October, and it was a fine, cold, grey day.Nothing special about it, except that we have a long weekend here in Bavaria, so overall, we are just chilling out. All of us in the family are feeling sick, but still, we are fine. It’s Halloween time in almost half of the world, but I noticed that Germans are not so fond of this. Kinder Halloween parties are held in a music club bar where children clad in their costumes danced in the funky lights, grooving to the disco lights, and loud music. I must admit, a threat for eager parents like me as well. My Little one, dressed as a funky skeleton, with a complete face painting done by yours truly was cheerfully emancipated as she partied with other kids. Trick or treating is another melancholic dream, well at least here in Bavaria, it’s a ghost, not as fancy as I have seen in Philippines. I was surprised that although they love pumpkins, it is best with pumpkin soup ( which I actually made for dinner last night !) and pies , the groovy jack-o-lanterns cheers up the lonely balconies outside , which is a picture of deafening silence.
I think its detrimental to even ring the bell of a house where all the roller shutters ( or Rolladen in Deutsch) are firmly shut!
Snapping some photos from my camera, and briskly walking on the carpet of fallen leaves, here’s what I’ve written to my thought journal ;
October, the only time where I see spider webs as something fascinating. Probably the best time to see spiders webs looking great, beaded with the moisture of the morning dew or mist. Take note, no two spiders webs look exactly the same. I didn’t know about this before, but then, it’s good to know, right?
Walking into the woods surrounded with colorful palette of autumn leaves may look dreamy and looks magical to others, it really looks beautiful , I cannot deny it. But after a while, this postcard of natural beauty becomes a fleeting moment. At the back of your mind, you know that the dreary cold winter still need to surpass, and I need to endure the cold. I am not so fond of winter that is why I’m saying this. After the ravaging winds we have from three days ago, which ripped off all the surviving leaves from its branches, now everything else is bare and grey. At least for enthusiastic Germans who runs everyday, the colorful foliage provides a great scenery, sort of.
But then, every leaf fallen to the ground and muddled up in the wet puddle only knows its own misery——-and melancholy.
The truth is , I could expect no more from this sight. It is enough. For me, everyday it gets even more ordinary. Maybe only by a pure accident of organic chemistry, leaves are reborn, as they start to die, in an astonishing range of colours that puts their spring birth to shame. We all know the look of decay. This is the winding-down of everything, slowly towards death. Yet , for those who took time to have deeper insights about autumn, you know that the beginning of the end doesn’t feel like decay, at least on the surface, it doesn’t feel like a crumbling and a decomposing and a collapse from within; it feels like the arrival of a world of new feelings. At first, the sound of dried fallen leaves against a kick, that crisp sound it makes that creates a jolt of excitement is almost the same melancholic exercise from my muscles as I rake down the dried , stubborn , fallen leaves in the lawn for hours.
That’s the other side of melancholy. How do you appreciate the beauty of a mess?
If we look closely, in the autumn foliage we can see our own mortality: a beauty with a sadness never far away. It’s the time where sadness creeps slowly, camouflaged in quiet, calmed emotions, basked in agony of anticipating the end of the cold months. Soon, the season to rest and reflect will pass. Like a long passage to cross. But there’s nothing beat the picturesque beauty of blooming colors of spring whilst in Autumn, the beauty comes from an inner understanding of the cycle of life.
Where everything looks hazy, the mystery beyond the mist is yet to be uncovered.
And then again, there is the mist, arriving uninviting. To me, autumn mist is something you smell before you see it; it’s the initial hint of the blow of the air as I leave the house in the morning, the first gush of wind which kissed my cheeks as I hop on my bike, slowly creeping into my nostrils, and the realization from my inner tissues tells me that summer is finally over and the world is turning.
Every morning, I notice that the sunshine is hazy. I’ve moved all my plants to the biggest window in the house where they can received as much sun that they need to thrive on the coming winter months. It’s a joy to see them gathered together, as if they need each other to survive the gloom. I’ve picked my last stem of roses from this year, pruning of stems will follow later. I’ve sensed it as early as the last week of August, the end of BBQ season and lounging in Biergartens has come to an end, the gloomy sight of empty playgrounds, and steaming rivers becomes a panoramic dream right now.
This is my thoughts from my One hour of melancholy— Auf Wiedersehen October!
Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read , my friends. If you enjoy this post, please feel free to leave your thoughts, I would love to read them as well.
So tell me, are your moods also affected by the weather?
Do you also experience this so-called “melancholic” thoughts when winter is coming?
Cheers to November and wishing you all a lovely week ahead!
” A life with plants is vibrant and full of joy “…
I go by these words nowadays.This is the reason why I respect the social media that I am engaged into right now especially the platforms that I am sharing this Blog and my artworks as a self-taught artist. Instagram , for example have made me discover the beautiful side of loving plants.Talented photographers, gardeners, home makers and all these crazy plant people have created a whole new definition of indoor gardening .You think it’s just a new trend, I tend to disagree, for me it has become a lifestyle. The kind of inspiration that I love. If you love nature overall , I guess its very difficult to not appreciate the primitive and raw forms of life that surrounds us— plants! Come to think of it, when people wants to feel better, or release some tension, they go to nature. I live in a very green city, I have an access to green parks and forest within 5 minutes away from my doorstep. I always visit parks with beautiful landscapes, with blooming flowers and plants, or simply taking a walk into green forests to have a quiet time and nature always do me good. I am so thankful that my new home now, Bavaria, is an oasis of nature. It is no wonder I wrote many things about nature here.
It’s a natural stigma, like an old adage. Even from the beginning, people gravitate to something that make them feel good, an addiction in a good way. Studies shows the many health benefits of simply getting your hands dirty by gardening. Its one proven way to release chemicals Dopamine and Serotonin. It’s not just for old people. Now I understand the joy we had while “Strawberry picking” last Summer or just by drooling over the new sprout of leaves from my plants.
It’s like seeing the eyes of my daughter when she smiles— its beautiful!
This post is very personal to me since this is the story of how I find an outlet of happiness by “nurturing” plants. I have shared to you how I’ve felt when I sold my first painting. It’s a moment of pure joy, a newfound purpose. When I have “revived”a dying plant, something left with only few leaves, but then grows back and bloom, the feeling is the same. My journey as a crazy plant lady started with a small pot of Chrysanthemums I placed in the garden, plants some stem cuttings of Jade plants ( I didn’t even know how to grow them, I just tried my luck!) followed by few succulents and cactus, then the addiction began. There can never be enough. I am always on the look out of houseplants that are both beneficial and gives aesthetic boost to my home. With this, I involved my husband and my daughter. They know how crazy I am with plants because they know plants make me happy. Here in Germany, where the level of self-wellness is very high, it becomes a second nature now for me to create a lifestyle for a better quality of life.
Just like parenting, plant nurturing is a journey of self-discovery of how much love you are willing to give. It’s way more than just watering them. You’ve got to feel your plants, getting to know them, and watching over them like a mother. I am a first time mother and nurturing is something that I am continuously learning up until now. Being an Expat-mama where I don’t have the luxury of having my immediate relatives for support have forced me to discover myself through the ups and downs of motherhood. It was not easy, there were sad days and tears were shed, especially when my daughter is sick or facing developmental delays. But there were also tears of joy, a sense of being needed, of being loved-back in return. It’s priceless. I know many mothers & parents can relate to this feeling.
Plants have helped me in the process of learning how to nourish a life entrusted to your hands—and let yourself be nurtured in return. This an important part of fostering a strong, secure sustainability practice or else you will just waste money. Plants are no cheap and requires maintenance just like having a pet. It’s a beautiful purpose in life. I’ve lived in 4 different apartments in the last years and every time I build a new “home” for myself. Each one is a different surrounding and Expat life is like camping. A modern-day nomad. When you are new to a foreign place, or unsure where you are going in life, I find ways to fully integrate as much as possible. This is the reason why I always try to find beauty here in Bavaria. I focus on the positive side and making this place feels like home. Being a crazy plant mama helps me refocus my energy on staying grateful, abundance, presence, and manage my stress accordingly. My plants have help me “set my roots” here in Germany.My plants have taught me how to become a better person! And they remind me that my actions have a significant effect on them. I don’t think that I can make a single plant alive if I am neglectful. Having houseplants requires responsibility.
Just like Painting, colors, shades of paint and the medium that I use allow me to embrace every shape and form to create an art composition. I’ve become fascinated with plants and colors that I usually see in my surroundings. Germans are good home makers. I love the way they make their gardens and decorate their balconies with houseplants. From large curtain-less windows, I got a chance to sneak peek on their huge planters, with cascading plants all over. There’s something about the way a place looks so peaceful and cozy when it’s adorned with plants. I noticed that Germans also love fresh flowers.They have different plants and flowers for each season and one of the things I love about visiting the Fresh market is the fresh blooms in display! And speaking of Bavaria, here, almost, or at least from what I see, no matter how tiny your apartment is, there is always a pot of plant or flower in it.
I’m telling you, my biggest expenditures lately are my Plants and painting materials. The two important things that gravitates me to living a less-stress life.Living with plants in every room of our apartment have become a new natural for me in a short period of time. Some have stayed, and some have had to go, but the best part overall is seeing a growth happening, right before my eyes. I killed many of them , I was sad, disappointed at my self and blamed my “overwatering” nature. I am no expert, nor a green thumb. I just experiment, follow the rhythm of nature, researching about how to care for each type of plant, and this actually works for me to keep them alive, and especially —thriving.
My daily routine includes tending to my plants, as I tend to my love ones, feeding them & nurturing them. I am grateful every time I roll down the roller shutters from our living room to let the sun floods the entire house, giving the golden sunshine to my plants.Through the days, I dream of new ways to grow green life indoors and cultivating new plant sprouts. I clean the house surrounded by pots of Jade plants, ferns, Zamioculcas Zamiifolia ( or lucky feather),Monstera deliciosa, and Alocasia. I prepare meals for my family in the view of my stunning Oxalis Triangularis, and Snake plant ( Mother-in Law tongue plant) . We share sumptuous meals as a family in the dining area with my Lily (my Fiddle leaf fig tree) , Calatheas, and spider plant. In our garden, I plant herbs, and grow tomatoes, leeks, rosemary, basil and paprika from leftover veggies. Plants bring beauty into our lives and illuminate for us just what that kind of beauty can do to change the texture of our days and reconnect us to the cycles of the moon and stars and sun. If you are searching to live a more meaningful life, search for more beauty. Stop the negativity. And that begins, as all life does, with plants.
I read in one article that house plants reflect how you feel as a person because they are completely dependent on you. You can tell by the state of your houseplants whether you feel good about yourself or not.
“ Plant addiction or not, it really doesn’t matter. If you love what you do and you have joy in your life with whatever you fill it with—-it’s your choice. All addiction pathways are the same no matter what the chemical.
As long as you feel rewarded you reinforce the behavior to get the reward.”
So in other words it all comes down to the fact that we can’t change our craving nature but we CAN change the nature of what we crave.
What do you crave for in life?
I am curious to know, what is your channel of happiness at this moment?
Do you also love plants? How was your experience?
Please feel free to share your opinion of this post and if you are thinking of starting an indoor garden for yourself, you might want to check out what I’ve written on Houseplants that I actually didn’t kill.
Thank you once again for reading my friends. A long weekend is coming up over here in Germany and I am already busy thinking how to spend those days! Can’t imagine that within a month, I’m going back to school and start a whole new routine! Until next time.
As a normal consumer, I am always keen on checking where does a certain product is made from or manufactured. Who doesn’t like good quality? Back then at my work as a Quality Controller and in-charge of the Laboratory, my Boss would always tell our visitors that our Lab is being assessed by a German Lab. It may sound as a cliché but then it always brings the thumbs up.No further explanations needed.
There is something about things that are labelled with “Made in Germany” , or designed and of German origin. It is recognized worldwide as a label of highest standards, value and quality. And talking about German efficiency, It sounds right, and sells right. As an Expat here I value these things very much. I came from a third world country and the mention of “European made, or made in Germany”always gives me an assurance that its a great product. This is my personal opinion.
The other day, me and my sister were talking online when she shared to me that one of their sub- contractors is Viega Deutschland (Viega Press Systems). She asked me if I knew of their products since they mentioned that they are made from Germany .The moment they knew that its German-made, they have greater faith.
I have been living here in Bavaria for over a year now, and I am telling you, living with German efficiency has a tremendous impact in my life. Germany’s famous stereotype things are way more than their Beer, Cars and Sausages. Yes, the world-famous Oktoberfest (Beer Festival) is one big magnet from Munich, but have you ever wondered what other ORDINARY things you are using everyday, that actually originates from Germany?
or invented by Germans or Americans of German origin?
I was totally amazed that there are so many things which I discovered to be authentic German inventions. Keep on reading , you might realize that these are quite ordinary, so common, and that we can’t live without these things anymore.
Made in Germany, Ordinary yet Ingenious!
EASTER BUNNY (or Osterhase)
The Easter Bunny, at least as we know it today, first appeared in 16th century writings in Germany. In the 1700s, Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch) settlers brought the tradition of the Easter Bunny with them to the new world. Their children believed that if they were good, the Easter bunny would come and lay eggs and treats into nests the children made out of upturned hats and bonnets!
Yes, the Envelops, office paper, printers, notebooks, filling cabinets, they are all made in Germany (or at least their size has been established in Germany).
If you are familiar with ISO, EN, and other Quality Standards, I am sure you know DIN. TheDIN is the acronym for “Deutsches Institut für Normung”, which is the German national institution for standardization (=ISO). The DIN created the DIN standard that specifies the paper size (DIN A3, DIN A4, DIN A5, etc.) that is used all over the world, with the exception of US and Canada.
ADIDAS AND PUMA
Even if you are not a sneaker fan or into sports, I am sure these top of the line brand of sneakers always rings a bell. You know that when you got Adidas or Puma shoes under your feet, you feel great. Adidas (the shoes with the three stripes) is the second largest sportswear manufacturer worldwide and was named after its founder, Adolf (Adi) Dassler. Adolf started producing shoes in the 1920s in Herzogenaurach near Nuremberg with the help of his brother Rudolf, who later formed the rival shoe company Puma.
Do you own a pair? What’s your favorite design?
I have been using this brand of drawing and writing materials from mechanical pencils to technical pens for years! With HQ in Nuremberg,Germany, Staedtler Mars GmbH & Co. KG is a German fine writing instrument company and a manufacturer and supplier of writing, artist, and engineering drawing instruments. The firm was founded by J.S. Staedtler in 1835 and produces a large variety of writing instruments, including drafting pencils, propelling pencils, professional pens and standard wooden pencils.
I live in the city where the HQ of Audi is located. Audi is the big thing here in Bavaria and of world-renowned top of the line car. Germans are crazy (in a good way) about their Autos, and cars are a big deal here. I understand why Germany is on top when it comes to cars. Name it, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Volkswagen, and Porsche to name a few. German car makers make a very good reputation worldwide. But safety is also something that goes with German-made brand, the AIRBAG.
Originated in Germany and the first time in 1981 as optional equipment for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the airbag has now become standard. We all know that it has been helping to save lives ever since.
Have you ever had a headache? Everybody does and so this medication is known worldwide.In 1897, the company Bayer developed the first pain remedy with minimal side effects. Aspirin is one of the world’s most-favored medications for pain, fever and inflammation. About 12,000 of the 50,000 tons of Aspirin produced annually still come from Bayer. Aspirin was even taken on the first moon landing in 1969: there was a box of the effective pain-killer on board when Neil Armstrong flew in the Apollo 11.
A total milestone in the micro world! When livestock was stricken by a dangerous disease throughout Europe in 1870, Robert Koch discovered that bacteria were the cause of the disease. He was also able to isolate the bacillus that causes tuberculosis. With these discoveries, Koch founded a new branch of science: Bacteriology.
Johannes Gutenberg was a German craftsman and printer who invented the first printing press with movable type in 1450. This invention revolutionized printing, making it simpler and more affordable. Printed materials were made available to the masses for the first time in history.
How many card/ID’s you have in your wallet which has a chip card on it? Today, everyday life is inconceivable without the chip card: SIM (phone card) , credit card, patient card – all important data are packaged neatly in plastic. Your whole personal identity in one small chip. Even my Aufenhaltstitel ( my German residence card) has a chip!The chip card was developed by Jürgen Dethloff and Helmut Göttrup in 1969. In 1977, Dethloff applied for a patent for the microprocessor card, the so-called smart card, that can be freely programmed thus providing high functionality.
CHRISTMAS TREE (Tannenbaum)
Finland may claim Santa Claus but Christmas Tree came from Germany!
When I had my first German Christmas here last year, I was so curious and delighted even more of the magical tales of Christmas, especially White Christmas, with real snow and real Christmas tree. I never expected that Christmas tree tradition during Christmas originated in Germany. When I saw all the festivities in an authentic German Christkindlmarkt, and how Germans celebrate Christmas, I fell more in love with this tradition. A REAL tree glittering with shimmering lights in the snow is a dream come true.
In 1419, a Christmas tree was mentioned in a written document for the first time. This tree was decorated with candy and pastry and set up by bakers in Germany’s Southwest. The tradition to set up such a decorated tree at Christmas time spread throughout Germany and the whole world. Emigrants brought the Christmas tree to America, and in 1889 the first Christmas tree was set up in the White House.
PREGNANCY TEST and the PILL
In 1928 two German gynecologists: Selmar Aschheim and Bernhard Zondek created the first reliable pregnancy test in the history. All women dying to have a baby kisses this small pen-like invention once they found out they are pregnant!
On 1961 from Schering AG, With 50 micrograms of estrogen, Schering succeeded in simulating a pregnancy in the female body. The market launch of the first pill in Germany had far-reaching consequences: sexual lust no longer needed to result in the blessing of children.
Do you wear one?Contact lenses were invented and made in 1887 by the German physiologist Adolf Eugen Fick. He first fitted animals with the lenses, and later made them for people. These lenses were made from heavy brown glass and were 18-21mm in diameter.
In Philippines, people are crazy about Coke, while in Kuwait, they only know Pepsi. But did you know that the second largest brand of the Coca Cola Group originated in Germany in the early 40’s? And this is not a rumor, the official site tells the story:
“During the World War II: Germany suffered from shortage of resources, including the ingredients used in the Coca Cola formula. The German factory however made the most of those difficult times and managed to create a new soft drink, made of the available ingredients during war. Once the drink was formulated, the factory organized a contest and invited the employees to look for a name for the new drink. And they found one: the new drink was “fantastisch” and “fantasievoll” (adjectives in German that mean fantastic and imaginative) and so the new drink was called Fanta.”
I love and use this product for a long time up until now. It was another surprise to me knowing they are German-made! I literally grew up with this product. My mother loves this as well.
This round blue tin of creme can be found in every beauty section of leading supermarkets worldwide. It’s a classic skin care. However very few of us knew that it’s a German brand. Beiersdorf is Nivea’s parent company, which was funded in the 19th century in a chemistry shop in Hamburg. These days they still have their HQ in Hamburg.
This one is a lifesaver. I love Gummy Bears and my daughter is addicted to this. Here in Germany, they give this to children in the Doctor’s office, in the bakery, in the shops. When you live here in Germany, you will be surprised with the large aisle in the supermarkets allotted only for this product. So many types and flavors.
A sweet, colorful, tiny little bear in the palm of your hand. You pick it up to your mouth, and bite its little head off. The gummy bear. One of Germany’s most popular sweets was created in 1922 by Hans Riegel. He was born in Bonn, and opened a candy company called HARIBO, an acronym based on the letters of his name: HAns RIegel of BOnn. So next time your relatives asks for a souvenir from Germany, let them have a taste of this Gummy Bears!
Curious about how they manufacture Haribo Gummy bears? watch this!
JEANS AND YOUR LEVI STRAUSS!
Everybody loves wearing Jeans, and when you are wearing blue , you are absolutely IN. Jeans are forever, but did you know that they are born out from a German mind?
Levi Strauss was trained as a tailor in Bavaria before joining the California gold rush. Here he ran into prospectors and miners who complained about easily torn pants. In 1873, Strauss patented his idea of using copper rivets at the stress points of sturdy work pants. The Levi’s Jeans were born.
KINDERGARTEN ( German Pre-School)
Friedrich Froebel was a German educational reformer who invented the kindergarten (“garden of children”). He opened the first kindergarten in 1837 to protect children from misery at the beginning of industrialization. His kindergartens included pleasant surroundings, self-motivated activity, play, music, and the physical training of the child.
Here in Germany, we call this “Kita” and my daughter started recently in one of the local Kita in our neighborhood. Contrary to the American based system , here, Kindergarten kids are on “Play Based” system of learning and academics are not introduced up until the age of 6.
The person responsible for healthy teeth is the pharmacist Ottomar von Mayenburg. He experimented in 1907 with tooth powder, mouthwash and ethereal oils. What he came up with was a toothpaste he named Chlorodont. With a little peppermint added for good taste, he filled the paste directly into pliable metal tubes. And we’ve been brushing our teeth regularly after breakfast and before bedtime ever since.
Wherever in the world, New York, Singapore or Middle East, without safe elevator systems, the skyline of many metropolises would look different today. The TWIN elevator developed by ThyssenKrupp in 2002 represents a milestone in the history of elevator technology. The new system has two cabins in each shaft, arranged one on the top of the other, which can move to the individual floors independent of one another using the same guide rails.
I am running out of time and I don’t want this post to be a novel , I’m afraid its gone quite long .These things are all ordinary but come to think of it, what would be our lives today without them?
Bonus info: Other things such as the mayonnaise, Helicopter, motorcycle,MP3 format,refrigerator,Ritter Sport Chocolate,Steinway piano, tape recorder,telephone,television,Theory of Relativity (by Albert Einstein), Thermos flask, X-ray, Hugo Boss, Escada, Faber-Castell (from Bavaria), and the Scanner (Klitschograph).All these are genuine “MADE IN GERMANY” Contributions to the world!
More clever things you didn’t know but of German inventions are listed Here.
Thank you for reading my friends! Hope this helps you know more about the ordinary yet ingenious German contributions to the world! And if you are an Expat living in Germany, I am sure you live with these things, ingenously !
If you enjoyed this post, please don’t hesitate to leave some love and comments which one is your favorite! Until next time!
I know the nursery rhyme ‘ Baba Black Sheep’ but Blue Sheep ???!!
While I was living in Kuwait, I knew Sheep because of Ramadan and Eid Al- Adha. If you must know, they are prime element of Islamic celebrations.I saw them from the same “Camel farms” I’ve visited and they don’t normally “graze“in Kuwait city but they are being ushered to the animal market especially during the Muslim festivities of sheep ritual slaughtering.
But here in Germany I’ve seen something different.
Today we’ve seen a flock of ‘Blue Sheep ‘ grazing right in front of our Altes Rathaus ( or City town Hall ). Totally eye-catching and one-of a kind. In the middle of the square, there are approximately 150 pieces of Blue sheep sculptures, erected as a symbolic art project which promotes mutual tolerance and peace.
From the artistic minds of German artists Rainer Bonk and Bertamaria Reetz from the design series ‘Blue Sheep’, the Blue Flock Art Project was first exhibited to public in Lido, Venice in 2009 as Germany’s contribution to the “OPEN 12” , an international sculpture and art exhibition. Since then, they continue to roam around all over Europe to promote their advocacy for peace , tolerance and equality. They normally “graze“in historical places, landmarks and iconic cities to create an artistic juxtaposition.
I live in Bavaria and our region is celebrating now the world-renowned Oktoberfest and the sight of overwhelming men in Lederhosen and lots of cleavage sight for women in Dirndls in beer tents downing mugs of beer has now been a typical sight for me. But seeing these blue sheep for a change is really refreshing, especially for kids. You can imagine how delighted my daughter is when she saw the sheep, and she explained how many are they!
Why they are painted Blue?
They come in bright Ultramarine Blue color, which is the color of the Earth, ocean and the sky. I recognized this color since I have these in my paints. Blue is a primary color, a powerful base of the color spectrum. It symbolizes peace, unity, freedom and space. It embodies all good moral aspects.
What makes the Blue Sheep special?
Every blue sheep is painted and crafted in the workshop for mentally disabled people ( Duisburger Werkstatt für Menschen mit Behinderung GmbH) , SBK Gmbh in Cologne,Germany. If you are interested to get a collector’s item ,you can learn more about this project here.They have a special offer for schools and hotels.
The Blue Flock of Peace Art Project have been to key places around Europe like Denmark, Austria, Belgium, Köln, Bozen, Dresden, Heilbronn,Dessau, Berlin, Hannover and Strasbourg among others.
I must say that my Wandertag with my daughter today has been a fascinating one. It’s definitely Fall here now in Germany and I am so looking forward to wander and discover nature’s best, its vibrant colors and festivities.
How about you, have you ever seen this type of sculpture?
Milestone Alert : My green Goblin 3-Year old daughter goes to the Kindergarten!
It’s been a while since I’ve written some personal updates about my daughter whom I’ve written a lot about here in “Raising Natalie “. So I thought that after squeezing some quality time with my ever-beloved laptop which always reminds me of my Expat days in Kuwait since it has Arabic characters in the keyboard, I finally managed to put together this post to celebrate my daughter’s first days in Kita ( or German Kindergarten). And yes, I called it celebration, because I think, starting in Kindergarten is a great milestone to celebrate just like a promotion or a raise. After all, it’s a signal for growth. Not only for your kids, but for parents as well! Finally, my Third Culture Kid goes to Kindergarten!
So first, if you are a parent and your child goes to Kindergarten for the very first time, let me give you my warmest congratulations, and say “Well, done!”
I wanted to share our experience how did it go for us with my daughter starting her days in Kita here in Germany. I’ve written before how insane it is here to find a spot for our child to be admitted in the Kita. We literally waited for almost a year! Yes, A YEAR! With almost 10 schools we applied, only 1 responded. Sure thing, as a parent we all have our own preferences for which school we want our children to go, but here and on our case, it’s not just possible. You gotta take what’s given to you. The competition is so tight that you just put your hopes on luck! Anyway, we are grateful for the slot that has been given to us by the local ministry which takes care of these things. It is just in time for my daughter to be readily accepted since she just turned 3 years old last August and her school starts this September.
We ‘re all excited for her! Few weeks before she start, we always talked about Kita to her so she gets familiar with it. When we had our meeting with her teachers, we were asked to prepare the things that she needed like Regenkleidung ( rain clothes) like Matschosen, (which is really a German thing!) a raincoat,rain boots, hat, gym shoes, house shoes and extra pair of clothes(seasonal) just in case she make herself wet or dirty. We brought her some extra diapers just in case, toothpaste, tooth-brush, and her own File folder with her personal identification and a family photo.
Here in Germany, the education system is totally different from where I grew up, or from Kuwait, or in the Netherlands. Here, German focused more on children’s early development through free play, totally opposite from the American system where there is a stress on learning the academics at the very young age! Here, in simple layman’s terms: Kita is a place to play and learn things through play. Social skills are polished by stimulating the child’s development through unstructured modules. They learn things naturally and reading comes later. I never see any alphabet or numbers on the walls. I remember that in Philippines, Kindergarten & pre-schoolers are taught to read and write, paint, count and so forth and there is a reward system. Like if you behave well or achieve something remarkable for a certain activity, there is always the recognition. Remember the stars on the hand? Over here in Deutschland, those things are not the norm. I think I am the only one whose teaching my daughter to write and count!
When her teacher saw that my daughter reads the writings on the bulletin board and the names in their coat racks, she was really surprised! To top it off, I already announced to the teacher that my daughter is the only one who just can’t sit. She is so restless that she always wants to be on the go, running, playing and hyperactive. They saw it on the very first day. I haven’t even had the chance to say a proper goodbye because she already run into the playground and her teacher is running after her! We start with her staying in the Kita from 8 am to 11 am for the first 2-3 days, then gradually increase the times she spent there up to 2pm. On the first day, they asked me to leave after 1 hour and stand by phone to wait for any updates. Around 11 am, I picked up my daughter and felt relieved that she was playing by herself, cried a few times but they were able to calm her. I can see signs that she is ready for Kindergarten but the challenge of Separation and Hunger are two big things she is overcoming slowly, at her own pace.
My daughter is very social and yet uncontrollable especially when she is too absorbed with playing. She’s the explorer type so I know that the hardest part for the teachers to do is to tame her and make her listen. She has a lot of personality and her attitude stands out being the defiant. Oh yes, there were lots of crying, screaming, and defiance on these days and the worst thing is, she doesn’t like to eat or drink during Brotzeit (snack time) or even during lunch. She doesn’t like to be in their group, she refused to stay there in their room and prefer to be in the middle group where she spends her time pretend-playing, and obsessing about dressing up as a nurse and Doctor. By the end of the week, she caught her first virus , also maybe because we are having a terrible rainy-cold-crazy weather these days, so she got severe colds and when I pick her up, she was already warm.
It was not an easy start for us. In fact it gets bumpy at the end of the first week. Nevertheless, during the course of the days up until today, I saw that she made some progress. I was happy today because when I opened her lunch box, only few pieces of cucumber are left, we are making real progress! She sat in the table with her classmates and began eating together.I know there are more challenges to come for her, like sitting in the potty and probably sleeping there, but I trust that my daughter will overcome all these in due time and finally adapt to her new routine.
As for me, I don’t know about you or for other parents how did it go, but I really felt weird during the first day of my daughter in the Kita. Call me crazy, but I felt sad, disoriented ,and a bit out-of touch. I missed my daughter from the moment I left and my heart was crushed during the time I was going out to leave and heard her crying. I asked myself if I am a terrible mother? I can’t imagine that my hyper-active “kleine madchen“(little girl) will be needing me less and less. Its a mixture of happiness for her growth and yet why all these weird feelings inside me!? The separation anxiety is real now!
When it comes to the familiarization phase, it is important to observe and regard the many signs that our children sends out. There is a possibility that children react at a delayed stage (even months later) to an unsuccessful adaptation.
As the winds get chillier, and colder, signalling that Autumn is here and soon everything will be in full Autumn colors once again, my daughter is facing the new chapter of her life ; taking the Big Little Steps in the Kindergarten and we as parents, need to moved on as well. This Familiarisation period ( or Eingewöhnung in Deutsch) might not be easy from the start but I know, soon she will feel secure, safe and comfortable in her new environment. I am relieved that though the teachers barely speaks English, still we found a way to communicate and understand about the matters of her settling-in the Kindergarten.
How about you? How was your own experience when your child goes to Kindergarten for the first time? (If you have a child...)
Yes, you might have noticed that I am under the spell of Greens nowadays. I am loving all plants and thought that green is really the new Black! Here in Bavaria, the southern part of Germany, I have seen such an expanse of wild fields. From exotic plants to fine greens that all my Bavarian neighbors adorns their gardens and balconies to colorful blooms, especially in Springtime! One moment I am walking in the cobbled stone streets in the Old town where the stones speaks of hundreds of years in history and for a few minutes, I am lost in the middle of a wild fields full of greens and wild flowers. I find it rather luxurious to have the best of both worlds, seeing the urban developed structures, and the virgin, raw, and natural beauty of forests surrounding our city. Take for example this wild flower we’ve seen in a field full of bushes and wild summer flowers near to a playground.
In a typical place lies a nature wonder, a sweet surprise which goes unnoticed by hurries of life.
Taking a closer look at this flower, from the umbellifers ,from the family of Apiaceae , the Daucus dakota, or the wild carrot. This wild child is so striking, with its well-structured seeds covered in spikes and form into a ball while the umbels are still young. When they sprout, they have the same patterns.
The umbels are claret-coloured or pale pink before they open, then bright white and rounded when in full flower, measuring 3–7 cm wide with a festoon of bracts beneath.
A solitary purple flower often occurs in the center of the umbel. After flowering they turn to seed and contract and become concave like a bird’s nest. The dried umbels can detach from the plant, becoming tumbleweeds.
Did you know that the fruit are egg-shaped with seven ribs and hooked spines which will attach to animal hair.
Daucus carota is very similar in appearance to the deadly poison hemlock but Daucus carota is distinguished by a mix of bi-pinnate and tri-pinnate leaves, fine hairs on its stems and leaves and a root which is a slightly thickened tap-root that smells like carrots.
Amazing right? I never knew that wild flowers could be so interesting as this!