New Year’s Eve in Schlick 2000!

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My view last New Year’s Eve, up above, 2,240 meters above!

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.

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The view of the valley from above the Schlick 2000

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 !

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A Winter Sport Paradise in Innsbruck

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.

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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.

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!

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My Little Explorer!

Cheers to New Routes… New Possibilities.

We are ready to face the New Year!

 

 

 

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Celebrating my Anniversary with WordPress ! Cheers for more Blogging adventures!

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!

 

Tchüss !

~Christina

 

 

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Only in Bavaria :Epiphanie ( Dreikönigsfest)

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Dreikönigsfest in Bavaria (Three Kings)

January 6 is a public holiday here in Bavaria, Germany. It’s the Epiphanie or the Dreikönigsfest. I grew up that we wait up until the Three Kings to finally say goodbye to the Holidays and hide all the holiday trimmings. A New Year has begun and it is the signal of the end of the Christmas season, meaning— time to tidy up and remove all Christmas decorations, as well as the Christmas trees.

But I am sure there are still many leftover chocolates and Christmas goodies, just like what we still  have right now.

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Epiphany or Dreikönigsfest in Bavaria

Here in Bavaria, I have learned something new.

Ever since I arrived here, I noticed the inscriptions of chalk on top of the houses, especially on doors with these formula. I was really curious what these letters & numbers stands for. I thought for a while that they are just writings of the carpenter for measurements. I was totally wrong.

In the book of Matthew, the Magi, or Wise men (sometimes called Kings) learned of Jesus Christ’s birth, then traveled from the east following a star. In the modern times, we celebrate January 6 as the day the Magi arrived at the stable in Bethlehem to bring gifts to the Christ Child. The Kings are not named, they have come to be known as Melchior, from Persia, Balthezar, an Arab Scholar and Caspar, from India. They brought gifts for the child ; Frankincense (a perfume or incense), Myrrh (an anointing oil) and Gold.   The gifts were important… these were items that were not given to an ordinary man, these are gifts for a King.

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Also, as tradition, children dressed up as the three kings who visited Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem. The kids knock on doors and offer to write a symbol of blessing over the top of people’s entry-way doors. In exchange, the “blesee” is expected to give a donation to the Sternsinger, an organization that does various charitable works around the world. This year’s target is “Together against Child Labor.”

Here is a great well-produced video about this campaign that you can see on YouTube here.

So, finally, I had answers to my questions. The formula is quite simple: the 20 and the 18 on either end signify the current year.  version is that it stands for the names of the 3 wise men, Kaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. Epiphany is the time when traditional “C+M+B” house-blessing ceremonies are performed with an inscription on or above a door.

 

Inscriptions are either done by families or Sternsingers (Star Singers) as they carol around neighborhoods and raise money for charities. Star Singers are generally boys and girls in groups of four with three dressed as the Wise Men and one carrying a star.

Today, an ornate shrine, a Gold box, containing the bones of the Magi holds a place of honor in the Cologne Cathedral. Legend has it that St. Helena found them in Constantinople, and brought them home. (Maybe that’s why Germans feel so strongly about these Epiphany celebrations?) While the box isn’t very big, it is quite amazing to see.

Do you also celebrate Three Kings Day?

What are the local traditions?

If you wanna know more about what’s special about Three Kings, you can read the other article here.

 

 

 

800,000 Crystal Clouds In Swarovski Kristallwelten

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Crystal Clouds in Swarovski Kristallwelten by Andy Cao & Xavier Perrot 

Happy New Year to you my friends! Thank you and warm welcome to the Blog for my new followers.It’s great to see you all in this brand new year!

I am so sorry for a long absence and updating this Blog. All through out Christmas, my daughter has been sick and I was busy both studying in my Deutsch class and with the 2-weeks break, despite the silence and hustle of the Christmas season here in Germany, we manage to get through with everything!

We spent New Year’s Day visiting the world-famous headquarters of Swarovski Kristallwelten in Wattens, near Innsbruck, Austria. The weather was grey, gloomy and constant snow showers dampen our mood but we can’t afford to go up in the mountains due to bad weather so we decided to wander off to the hilly village of Wattens, a half-an hour drive from Innsbruck. It’s  New Year’s Day, so it was busy as usual,the arrival hall of the Crystal world is packed with many tourists from different places. The entrance ticket costs 19 Euros per person which gives a full admission through the museum. As for me and my family, we’re so glad to see this place because it really exceeds our expectation.  I was totally impressed of how magnificent the crystal world until I saw it with my own eyes. All my life, I have known Swarovski only  as the  crystal and fashion icon and its beautiful  jewelry line, nothing less. But seeing this place, I was really grateful to have this chance. More than the crystal jewelries I have seen in the store, I had no idea how beautiful the world can be with crystals and artistic craftmanship.

It’s winter time, the place is covered in snow.The  company is situated in the foot of the snow-capped Alps mountains .On the day of our visit, I noticed that the company  is undergoing a tremendous expansion, with its modern Arrival’s hall facing the face of Swarovski, the Giant” ,lying in the verdant hills of Wattens, the foliage-covered giant who spews a waterfall from his mouth and guards over a dozen fantastical crystal chambers beneath a hill. It is designed by artist André Heller, who guards its entrance into the shimmering wonderland.

All of these are owned by Swarovski— the 16 Sparkling Chambers of Wonders, the spacious 7.5 hectares  garden surrounding the Giant, the Play Tower and play area,the Labyrinth, Arts in the Garden, but the most impressive thing that caught my eyes is their “Crystal Clouds and the Mirror Pond “. 

With the gorgeous white snow-capped mountains on its background, the Swarovski headquarters evolved into a stunning place for everyone to enjoy. Now people of all ages can visit this place and not only see gems, and crystal jewelry but also left in awe of the wonders inside this place. After we enjoyed a delicious lunch in “Daniel’s Kristallwelten” restaurant, my eyes caught the display of greyish net-like stuff suspended in poles in the spacious garden and wondered what are those. So after we ate, we went out and explore this wonderful work of art.

Talking about Crystal technology of course, the new crowning piece of the beautiful garden is the Crystal Cloud, created by Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot. Formally trained as landscape architects, Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot embrace serendipity, trusting intuition as their guide. They juxtapose the landscape medium with unexpected materials: recycled glass, mother-of-pearl, crystals, fishing line, etc. These materials come to life in outdoor settings, releasing or refracting light, elevating the inherent imperfections as beauty marks.

This monumental installation drifts above the black Mirror Pool, inviting visitors to pause for moment and be inspired.  I, too, have gazed long enough to admire the concept behind this and wished that I have seen this in the night-time where the lights make it like a magical world or while its shimmering against the sun.

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Give the Mundane its beautiful due.

With a surface of around 1,400 square meters, this mystical masterpiece is the largest work of its kind in the world. The Crystal Cloud consists of around 800,000 hand-mounted Swarovski crystals.  Imagine that! The forest of columns holding up the crystal-laden, cloud-like wire structure is proof of this. Visitors can walk along a ramp that drops down into the middle of the pool, allowing them to experience the interplay of light and colours from the height of the water’s surface.

I found a beautiful video of how the Crystal clouds shimmer against a bright sunny day.

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800,000 hand mounted Swarovski Crystals in the Crystal Clouds in Swarovski Kristalwelten in Wattens, Austria
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A Beautiful work of Art in Swarovski Crystal World, Innsbruck, Austria

A descending path draws visitors to the Mirror Pool where the crystals’ light is captured like stars shimmering in the nocturnal sky – even in broad daylight. The innumerable fireflies create magic light; as if in an enchanted fairy tale garden, they flit and dance through the air and accompany the visitors across the footbridge.

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” Making Diamonds affordable for anyone”

The 1,400-square-metre Crystal Cloud is the centre-piece of the 7.5-hectare park, which opened in Wattens on 30 April. The cloud and pool are located in a shallow depression surrounded by graded banks and birch trees. Contoured mounds separate the park from the surrounding area.

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Crystal Clouds in the Swarovski Crystal Worlds

On December 3rd, 2015, CAO PERROT won the Best of Year 2015 Award in the installation category for the Crystal Cloud at Swarovski Crystal Worlds, Wattens (Austria). The award has been presented by the US Interior Design Magazine for the past 10 years. This year’s winner was decided by almost 60,000 voters from the architecture and design industry.

Do you own a diamond?

Not everyone can afford  real diamonds, but  Daniel Swarovski’s vision was to make “a diamond for everyone” by making crystals affordable, and it definitely become a dream come true for myself.

Fake diamonds or not, Swarovski crystals have proven that whether or not you could actually afford anything studded with actual Swarovski crystals, the Crystal Worlds is an incredible sight for anyone with a love of fantasy and this is how we spent the first day of this brand New Year!

How did you spent yours?

 

 

Thank you for reading my friends, Stay tuned for more posts about my Innsbruck holiday, and spending New Year’s Eve and enjoying winter pleasures in the Schlick 2000 Ski area  even if you have a motion sickness riding the cable cars!

Tschüss!

The sweet thing called Chocolate Santa Claus

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Chocolate Santa Claus in Germany

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!

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Nikolaustag in Germany is December 6.

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 figure and 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!

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Chocolate Santa Claus and Nikolaustag

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.

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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.

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The sweet thing called Chocolate Santa Claus

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.

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Chocolate Santa Claus

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!

 

Tschüss!

Celebrating Christmas, the German way!

Ever wonder what makes Christmas or Weihnachten in Germany different from the rest of the world? Every country has its own traditions, but have you ever wondered how Germans celebrate Christmas?

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Life in Germany : Skating in ice while waiting for Advent and Christmas !

There’s no stopping time now, few more weeks and November is over and here comes the end of 2017. And yes, Christmas is really just around the corner. Snow came early to Germany and winter-feel is definitely in the air. As the fire in the sky continue to pull the days closer to the merriest time of the year, also the darkest time, Christmas  or Weihnachten is heavily anticipated not only here in Germany, but also in the rest of the world. If you are planning to have a white Christmas or visiting Germany in the summer, you can now have the chance to learn about the unique and surprising  German Christmas traditions in the Deutsches Weihnachtsmuseum located in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a well-preserved medieval town, also here in Bavaria.

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Local sightings in Christkindlmarkt : Beautiful hand crafted Christmas figurines

It’s almost a decade now that I don’t celebrate Christmas in my home country, the Philippines. Time really flies,and it feels even surreal. I totally missed the way we do it as a family, just like in the old times. It’s quite the norm from where I grew up that once the calendar months ends in-ber, say from September, it signals the start of Christmas frenzy!We start to hear Christmas songs played in the radio, the shops are flooded already with Christmas decorations, and yes, office Christmas parties are planned. The raffles, the never- ending exchange gifts, and yes—the most awaited Christmas bonus! I will never forget the evening mass and “Noche Buena“, the Kris Kringle madness, the jaw-dropping Christmas foods, and the crazy traffic during Christmas shopping! Everything is just so festive!

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Only in Germany : Angel or what??? This is the Christkind , the star of German Christmas markets

For the past years, I have seen so many differences in the way that other culture celebrate the most colorful time of the year, and for Catholics, it’s probably the most festive. When I was still living in Kuwait, although it’s a Muslim country, the spirit of Christmas can still be felt, unfortunately only in the confines of private accommodation and flat. At work, we were also granted with a holiday from work during Christmas Day. I even attended the midnight mass once. I noticed that more and more shopping malls have their Christmas decor and it is being talked about. The large number of expats in the Middle East is the reason, why  even miles away from home, you can still celebrate Christmas with friends and families. I had my first German Christmas last year here in Bavaria , with full anticipation (since I am very curious). I found many interesting German Christmas traditions that is worthy to document here in my Blog as part of my Expat life.

If you want to know how Germans celebrate Christmas the German way, then you might find this post helpful. So keep on reading and stay with me.

Here I wanna share with you  the surprising German traditions for Christmas that I personally love!

Christmas in Germany is beautiful, unique, homey and very warm!  

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Adventzeit : Light it up…!

The Advent Wreath or Der Adventskranz

The moment I saw these wreaths and candles, I know that Christmas is near. Back in my home country, I see these decorated wreaths as purely decorational, of course, minus the lighted candles.They are used to adorn the doors, and add to the already overwhelming Christmas decorations together with all the garlands in the walls, stairs etc. Not so here in Germany, because  Advent  time is important for Germans.

The German Christmas season officially starts at the first Sunday of Advent, roughly 3rd of December. The Advent wreath (or Adventskranz) is adorned with four candles, one of which is lit on each of the four Sundays preceding Christmas. The first Advent wreath, which appeared in the mid-19th century, had 4 larger candles and 19 smaller ones. Each day, one additional candle was lit to help the children count the days until Christmas. Today only the four larger candles remain. Many Germans love to decorate their Adventskranz up to their own taste but there are also so many different designs of ready-made ones sold in almost every shop.

Adventskalendar —the sweet way of Christmas countdown.

During Advent season, you will never miss the sight of tons of Adventskalendar , (literally a Calendar with small boxes) almost overwhelming  in many designs, colors, and yes, all with yummy goodness chocolates or sweet goodies. This is one of the obvious signs that Christmas is coming. This is a delight for children and the child at heart. In the Adventskalendar, there are 24 “windows” that reveal a picture, poem or even part of a story – often the story of the Nativity – each day through December right up to Christmas Eve when the secret behind the largest window is revealed. Seeing Germans do  panic-buying of Adventskalendars especially when they are on Sale is a typical sight as early as 2nd week of November! This is totally German thing!

Weichnachtsplätzchen or German Christmas Cookies 

You know it’s the Advent season here in Germany when your nose is filled with heavenly delicious German Christmas cookies. Germans are very into home- made baking. They really appreciate if  you made the plätzchen  yourself and not  store-brought. They are great bakers of cookies and other treats.There are lots of baked treats that will surely keep your mouth-watering. My favorites are vanillekipferl (vanilla crescent cookies) Lebkuchen, Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars), Linzer cookies and Spekulaas as well.Germans love to use lots of almonds, hazelnuts, butter flavored marzipan and cinnamon in baking. Believe me, German cookies  are too beautiful and heavily decorated to eat!

Weihnachtsmann Schokolade or Chocolate Santa Claus

Its only here in Germany that Chocolate Santa Claus  ( or Weihnachtsmann) floods the shelf of all supermarkets here in Germany. Prior to Christmas, St. Nikolaus is celebrated on the 5th of December and so most Germans get this yummy figures in many sizes. If you have a child, I am sure you will get this one as well.

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Christmas in Germany

Christmas Tree or  Der Tannenbaum

With over 400 years in history, the Tannenbaum or the Christmas Tree is the real thing in Germany! The German Tannenbaum is usually put up and decorated on Christmas Eve, though some families opt to put up their tree during the Advent season. Please don’t tell anyone, but we already put up our Christmas Tree! Maybe my neighbors are shaking their heads when they see our lighted tree from our windows! I also see my neighbors starts to decorate their windows and garden with white lights. Who doesn’t? For us, Weihnachtsfreude  (Christmas Joy) comes early! In Philippines, this is also the norm.

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German Christmas markets

I grew up in adoration of Christmas Tree. Traditionally, I think it’s not complete when we don’t have a tree. Recently, on my research of German inventions, I found out that Christmas trees or Tannenbaum, actually originates here in Germany. I saw the biggest tree that I have ever seen in my  life, to top it all— a  REAL Evergreen Conifer , decorated with glass baubles, covered in real snow. Although there are lots of varieties for the plastic ones, most Germans still opt to put up the traditional real tree. During Christmas season, almost all town put up a giant tree in the city center adjacent to the place of Christmas market.Decorated with beautiful, handmade balls, and usually adorned with white lights.Compared to the Philippines, here I noticed that they only use white lights instead of colorful, blinking Christmas lights. And NO— they don’t decorate their whole house with lights!It’s also fascinating to know that it was German immigrants who brought the Christmas tree to America.

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Christmas Baubles, authentic German Christmas ornaments

In Germany, Christmas balls are not just an ordinary tree ornament. Where most of the  modern Christmas ornaments and plastic balls  nowadays are made in China, USA or Mexico, the origin of these “baubles” or Glaskugeln came from Germany. The old town of Lauscha in German Thuringia is said to be the place of the handmade, glass-blown Christmas bauble.

Below is the photo of  the family Weschenfelder work on Christmas balls in their combined living room and work space in the small village of Lauscha.

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Image Source   
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These are some of the pretty Baubles I saw in the Christmas market

Christmas Markets  or Christkindlmarkt

In Germany, despite the freezing temperatures, almost all towns are converted into one colorful, festive, unique Christmas wonderland during few weeks before Christmas day. Our local Christkindlmarkt  is open since November 23 up to Dec. 23.  Every place has its own attraction and each one has their own special features that draws attraction to everyone. If you want to have a glimpse of what is Christmas market all about, check this and it will bring you to a winter wonderland!

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O Tannenbaum!

Today there are over 2,500 Christmas markets across Germany. One of my dream came true when I experience Christkindlmarkt last year. Famous ones  are in Nuremberg, Munich and Rothenburg. Most markets are open also on Sundays and draws lots of visitors from neighboring places.This is the best time to see Germany in its most colorful and unique display of celebrating Christmas with the highlights of the Christkindl —the German equivalent for the world-renowned Santa Claus and depicted as an angelic figure with blond hair & wings. It’s really not time of the year without a Christkindlmarkt here in Germany.

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Heart-shaped Lebkuchen or German Gingerbread  cookies.

St. Nikolaus and the Christkind

Santa Claus originated as a Catholic figure. The Christkind was created by Protestants. Christkind transformed from a suggestion of Baby Jesus into a blonde, female angel. In Nürnberg, each year a teenage girl is chosen to represent the Christkind in the weeks leading up to Christmas. She is known as the Nürnberger Christkind and, much like with Santa, children take pictures with her and tell her what gifts they would like for Christmas. The highlight of each Christmas markets is the German’s famous mulled wine or “Glühwein” or hot spiced wine, the Krippenweg, the beautiful craft stalls, and lots of traditional German Christmas food. There are so many attractions for kids like carousel, trains, carousel and the ice skating rink. One thing worth mentioning is the efficiency of  Germans in their way of setting up the whole place into a big arena  winter wonderland within weeks or so.

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Only in Germany : Forget Santa, meet the Christkindl and Saint Nicholas

 Sankt Nikolaustag ( Dec. 5 or 6)

I grew up believing the magical tale of  Santa Claus as someone who is a bearded old man, with a big belly, dressed in red outfit riding the sleigh with sacks of gifts. All the way from the North pole giving gifts to children. But in Philippines, we don’t have snow neither reindeer or chimneys, so this makes me cringe now.  For many children, sitting in the lap of Santa Claus while being photographed is one of the most unforgettable time during Christmas. They either scream in anguish or shriek in delight! Here in Germany, there is no such thing as Santa Claus, only the Weichnachtsmann who is a favorite among children during St. Nicholas Day! My daughter will be celebrating her 2nd St. Nicholas in their Kindergarten this year.

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My daughter’s first Nikolaustag ( St. Nicholas )

In Germany,  December 5th is a very special night. Many children put their cleaned boots and shoes outside the front door on the night of 5 December. They believe that St. Nicholas fills the boot with nuts, oranges, gifts and sweets overnight. Sometimes the Nikolaus also visits the children at the Kindergarden or in the school and asks them if they have been good.My daughter already hung her sock in their Kita for the upcoming St. Nicholas. In Holland, as similar to this celebration, Sinterklaas is also a big celebration before Christmas.

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Frohe Weichnachten!

Christmas Eve – Heiliger Abend (also Heiligabend)

December 24 is still a regular working day here in Germany. But around 2:00 pm, often even earlier, businesses, and most shops are close in preparation for the holiday celebration, a large part of which occurs on Christmas Eve in Germany. The traditional evening meal includes carp and potato salad, but nowadays it varies from what each family loves to prepare. Families sing Christmas carols together and may read the story of Christ’s birth aloud.This is the counterpart of our traditional “Noche Buena” without the roasted pig, Christmas ham and Queso de Bola ( Cheese ball)! Compared to the Philippines and other countries, I don’t see  Christmas Carollers here either that goes from house to house, at least not in our neighborhood.Probably because its hard to sing and be out at night when its freezing cold at night.

Family members exchange gifts and children are typically the focal point of the gift exchange. Here in Germany,  opening gifts on Heiliger Abend is the normal way, compared to other countries who opens the gifts on the morning of December 25th.

I grew up attending Midnight Christmas mass or Simbang Gabi. We usually attend evening mass on a 9-day series of mass up to the” Misa de Gallo “or ( Christmas eve mass) . Here in Bavaria, I only went to the mass on Christmas Day, German families – whether Protestant or Catholic and even those who are not regular church-goers – often attend mass or a church service. While the mass traditionally takes place at midnight, in recent times the services have moved into the earlier evening hours. It is terribly cold around midnight or in early morning so the schedule of the mass usually happens around 9 in the morning. The mass is in German and it was a great experience for a first timer like me who listens to Christmas songs in German.

Second day of Christmas ( or St. Stephen Day)

Here in Germany, you have an excuse to sleep in after the big party from Christmas. Yes, Germans and other countries in Europe including the Netherlands have 2 days of Christmas, both are legal and widely celebrated holidays! This is a mellow day, a quiet day to recover from the hustle of  everything. Depending on the weather, people are still very active, running, jogging and doing sports during the 2nd day of Christmas. For typical Germans, they spend the second day of Christmas with their families, visiting Grandparents, enjoying seasonal threats and of course–ruhe or enjoying some peace & contemplation.

Also, do you know what else Germans do after Christmas?

Christmas won’t be complete without shopping!

They go shopping to grab the year-end clearance sales and buy everything on a decent price! Yes, Germans are practical, and spend their money wisely! Last year, we got our 7- foot Christmas Tree on sale for half of its original price!And we will be on the lookout once again for great things to buy this year!

How about you, do you also have unique Christmas traditions?

How do you prepare for Christmas for your family?

 

Sending you some warm cheers for the coming holidays!

 

Tschüss!

 

 

A Dawn’s Transformation

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The story of the transformation of dawn

“You are always one decision away from a totally different life..”

 

Though I am fully embracing my “Life in Seasons”, everyday, I still struggle about German weather. It changes every now and then and I find it really challenging especially when I am caught up with so many things to do and so little time. I still need to master the way how locals  go on with their day with their mantra :

” There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing “.

As I go on with my day,  I found  wisdom from watching the transformation of the dawn prior to sunrise.Here’s the thing, I am not a fan of the cold. Frost finally arrived in Germany, in some parts it’s already snowing. Although I am not excited about the coming winter, I still embrace it as part of the change, but there is nothing more fascinating than to watch the dawn transforms into a colorful palette of colors in the sky. At least for me, it works.This one I truly love watching and if I have the chance, I go for it! I think watching the sky turns into a myriad of colors and hues can never be a boring sight .

This, amongst other things is special. It’s like an art story that only Artists can tell.

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Today’s Awakening hour

Everyday, as I drop my daughter to her Kindergarten, I passed by to this nearby sports field. It’s a huge field where children play football, rain or shine, showers and fog. Oh yes, if you live in Germany, the sight of people doing sports like running, Nordic walking and especially playing football is normal, no matter what the weather is. On Sundays, where it is considered as “Ruhetag”( or Quiet day) , most teens are playing sports. The place where I live is also near to another sports complex , so this is nothing new to me. I always hear the noise when people are playing so eventually, I knew exactly what is happening when there’s a tournament or a game.

The past weeks have been cloudy and wet, most of the time with constant pouring rains but the last days, we are rewarded with beautiful weather.But as it is the German weather, this things doesn’t last for long. It is fleeting. The transformation is so short, that in span of minutes, the sky is changed into something magical, into a boring, grey, clouded sight.

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Nature’s transformation

Before rushing to my German class, I managed to stop and snap some photos of the sky just to document this fleeting moment. Call me crazy but when I see these things, I can’t help but to admire nature, even in its simplest forms. I recalled that last year, I have witnessed a radical fire-burning Autumn skies, but this year, I noticed that they are less.

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A golden sunrise in Germany

I found my inspiration while watching this dawn’s transformation for about two minutes. As I hopped into my bike and go on with my day, I realized that within this fleeting inch of the fraction of my time, I saw a transformation that can never be recalled. While everybody is in chaotic morning rush mood—- going to work, rushing to school and dropping their children to Kindergarten and running errands,I found minutes to calm me down.

It’s automatic, piloted by nature, something so raw, simple, and yet precious. In modern times where beauty can be tampered with technology, this is called unfiltered beauty.

Have you seen something like this lately?

How do you manage to start your day while in chaotic morning rush?

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

Spekulaas : Dutch’s old time favorite soul food.

 

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My First time ever baked Spekulaas Cake ( Spekulaas Koek)

Thanks to my Dutch husband who introduced me to a hidden Dutch goodness, the Spekulaas,  or the longtime Dutch soul food. When it comes to food, the Dutch cuisine doesn’t boast of a world-renowned foods, but when you take a closer look at what’s in a typical Dutch’s table, you’ll be able to understand why Krentebrood, Kroket, Patat, Poffertjes, and Stroopwafels are humble example why you should taste them at least once in your life, at least if you have the chance! I remember the first time I sat on a Dutch table and devoured with delight some home-made meatballs with Rode kool met appleltjes. It was a delightful meal, my first time ever to taste a red cabbage— with cinnamon-tangy apples!

What is Spekulaas ?

I had  Spekulaas was when my parents-in-law  visited us in Kuwait and brought us a handful of Spekulaas goodies from Holland three years ago. There were Spekulaas cookies, Gevulde koek spekulaas and all sorts of pastry cakes spiced with Spekulatius. There was no way we can find Spekulaas spice in Kuwait, let alone the genuine spice composed of cinnamon ( zimt) nutmeg ( muskatnuss), cardamon, ginger, white pepper,and ground aniseed.  I have seen the  Lotus Speculoos  cookie spread ( Belgian origin)  sold in selected supermarkets like in Carrefour, but then it is not the authentic Spekulaas flavor. Since then, Spekulaas became a favorite of mine among Dutch food, creating a statement of soul food. It is not just a winter food.  It’s hard to explain, the taste, the smell, and the rich flavor, it is unique, and I found it to be  decadent for me. Here in Germany, fortunately, Spekulaas and spices are widely sold in most supermarket, all year round. But during Fall, and the Autumn baking season starts, Spekulaas, along with Lebkuchen and Stollen floods all the shop.

Last week, my daughter had the Lantern parade celebrating Martinstag (or St. Martin). The kids along with their parents walked in the dark with their lantern and singing songs. Despite the rain, cold and darkness, it was a meaningful experience. Parents are  also asked to bring some bakes goodies along with kinderpunsch and glühwein. I wrote Spekulaas Koek for our share! I know I must be crazy, because first and foremost, I have never tried making Spekulaas cake, and secondly, I don’t know how to do it! This is totally something bake from scratch!

But as the saying goes ” When there’s a will, there’s a way! ” so  definitely  I found a way! I did my research and get the ingredients and then I prepared to bake Spekulaas ahead of time.I got the Spekulatius spices from Holland. Sometimes I even springkle some in my home made waffles and pancakes!

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Our house feels heaven after I took this out from the oven.

Speculaas or speculoos is one of the Dutch culinary specialties. Normally, it is a spiced biscuit, made with wooden forms or moulds. They are typically winter food, and especially associated with the feast of ‘Sint Nicolaas’ or Saint Nicholas, the original Santa Claus. Along with their infamous Chocolate Letters and Kruidnoten, Spekulaas signals one of the best celebrated feast in the Netherlands  before Christmas;  the Sinterklaas. This feast is celebrated on 5 or 6 December. Speculaas is very old, the spices used date from medieval times.

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Home made baked Gevulde Koek Spekulaas
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My home-made Gevulde koek with Almond filling 

The name seems to derive from the Latin speculum (mirror, the biscuits had the carved figure of the mould in mirror image). Old wooden biscuit moulds show biblical scenes, historic events, ships, windmills, mermaids, and of course images of Saint Nicholas with the small children he had saved according to the legend. Single youngsters could receive a ‘vrijer’ (male admirer/lover) or ‘vrijster‘ (female admirer/lover). According to some this could be considered as a marriage proposal from the giver. These large speculaas dolls (Dutch’s version of  Gingerbread cookies) were often decorated with coloured icing, silver pills and even leaf gold.


The speculaas biscuits from before, say, 1850, were made with a very hard dough containing rye flour and honey.  Be warned though that these biscuits were so hard they could only be eaten if they were dissolved into a sweet (and tasty) porridge.
I enjoyed dipping these hard cookies in my coffee just to make it soft a bit. I noticed that they can also be stored for a long time in an airtight container.

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Decadent blanched almond on top of Gevulde Koek Spekulaas

So I brought the baked Spekulaas cake and Gevulde Koek Spekulaas to my daughter’s St. Martin’s party and  placed it along the German ‘s trays of Lebkuchen, onion breads, macaroons, pizza breads, pretzel and other home made goodies. Here in Germany, I observed that only healthy options are served to feed the children. the parents of the children in the Kindergarten are giving support to the school staff and this way of potluck is a great thing to enhance social aspects. Junk food and soft drinks are totally absent. I kept on looking if people would eat it or it will be left ignored. I stand there and watch each piece dissappear from the tray. When I only saw two to three pieces left from the Gevulde Koek, I felt relieved. It made me feel satisfied that my Dutch- inspired baking was consumed well and I was able to share some Dutch goodness.

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Dutch’s ultimate Soul food: Spekulaas

To get the best verdict : The Dutchman himself tasted and devoured the Spekulaas! I gave a few slices to our  German neighbor as well and they only replied with “Lecker” ! ( or delicious ).

I guess anything made with Love taste better, Do you agree? Are you also fond of home made cooking.

 

Do you like Spekulaas?  What  is your favorite comfort food for winter?

 

If you are inspired to do some Fall baking and bring some Dutch flavors in your home, you might want to try making the traditional Dutch Apple Pie ( Appeltaart ) and bring some crazy colorful Rainbow cake.

Guten Appetit and wishing you a lovely week !

 

Tschüss!

 

 

 

Acrylic FluidArt : Tropical Sea foam Blues

“Why do we love the sea? 

It is because it has some potent power to let us think things we like to think…”            { Robert Henri} 

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Acrylic Fluid Artwork :  Tropical Sea Foam blues ( 50 X 70 CM) Abstract painting

 

Hello friends! Just in time that the touch of frost finally arrive here in Germany today, I got inspired to create a tropical sea-foam abstract painting. I am still perfecting my skills in acrylic and creating modern abstract pieces, and this piece, by far, gives me most satisfaction. As a self-taught artist, I feel the satisfaction once I see the “enigmatic” factor in my painting. I can’t explain it, but I know when to put down my brush and say “It is done..”. I think this is very important since If I don’t like what I do, how can I persuade others to like what I do?

Yes, I admit that I am the kind of person who is affected by the weather and my mood changes depending where I am. Back to dressing up in layers, I face the cold weather outside. It’s all grey, and I am not planning to paint something bleak and grey. It’s been raining, cold, wet  and dreary so I just busied myself in painting abstract using warm tones of blue, green, teal, whites and silver to give accent. This weekend was all about November rain and gloominess all over our place, so there’s nothing much really to do, and complaining about the weather doesn’t help either, add the fact that I have a nasty cold so I needed something to lift up my mood.

Thinking about tropical views of the beach, the blue waters and cloudless bright skies, I let my mind wander about the calm sea blues and breakaway waves, all creating a majestic image.Did you know that Seascape is one of the fascinating subject to paint, also one of the most complicated one? As a self-taught artist, I can’t say that this subject needs a lot of patience, and imagination. If you are not flexible enough, then it will be hard to replicate the waves and the movement, and the spirit of being “alive”of the sea.

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Up close details of the “SEAFOAM BLUES”

This piece is made by using Fluidart with Acrylic. I have mentioned before in my previous post, how I am embracing this new technique and learning so much about dirty pour, and following the motion of acrylic when it comes to creating modern abstract pieces. To create the texture and depth of the moving waters and waves, I used pinsel, sponge and a lot of mixing and blending.It’s all about trial and error. I have made so many mistakes. I actually painted these canvas twice because I don’t like the previous one.

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Up close details of the “INFINITE BLUES”Abstract painting

Anyway, have you ever seen a painting that you really love and wanting to buy it, but it was too expensive?

I do, and I have been into this situation many times. Especially with Abstract, I have always thought that “How can something like this worth so much?” Here’s my thoughts about this dilemma.

WHY DO YOU NEED TO BUY AN ORIGINAL ARTWORK?

Many are intimidated to buy an original artwork, mainly they get intimidated by the price, or the access to original art is limited. There’s an old cliché that fine artwork is only for collectors or art enthusiasts. I knew this because before I am like this.

As a self-taught Artist, and Artisan , all of my artwork are purely made with Love and inspired  by my new- found passion for painting, priced reasonably and cordially. What started as an inspirational Hobby slowly turns out to become a passionate endeavor. I taught myself to polish my talent and skill to create unique paintings. I used high-quality paints and provides the concept in each piece. As an Expat-Mama here in Germany, painting helps me to establish my roots in my new home and gives me an outlet to channel out my love for arts. Every piece has a story behind it and this painting you are viewing is no-exception.

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If you buy an original painting, you are not just supporting the local Artist,  you are also empowering a self-taught artist and other skilled crafts people. My painting is not like a dress or a crafted jewelry where you can wear, it is a by- product of talent and hard work. A distinct work of art.  If you give a new home  to a painting, you’re not only buying another wall art to decorate your wall, instead, you create an infinite connection that never can be valued with money, something MADE With Love.

I am writing this not to promote my Shop or advertise sales for my artwork. I am sharing this for people to understand the concept of creating original artwork and sharing it to others who would like to have them. There are no such thing as easy when it comes to painting and artwork. It’s all about your passion to create something and being original. I fully understand these things now because now I have created something that I have shared with others. It is a great cycle.

IMG_4393Another 3-piece set, each piece depicting the calm breeze and soothing azure blues of a tropical scenery of the beach. This beautiful set of three is perfect to adorn any room, giving it a lift, and a modern look.

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“INFINITE BLUES “, Modern Abstract painting (50 x 70 cm)

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What do you think of this artwork?

Have you ever bought an original artwork?

 

If you have more time to kill, please say Hi and visit my shop, we are officially online now, and ready to do business with you. I am shipping worldwide from Germany, so give us a visit and maybe you find what you are looking for! We are also in Instagram, please connect with us! Hope to see you there.

If you like anything customized or made to suit your preferences, just send me an email about it.

 

Thank you once again for reading this Blog and I appreciate your visit!

 

Tschüss!

 

 

 

Kindergeld : My 3- year old’s basic income in Germany

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A Third Culture Kid enjoying the cold Autumn walks

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.

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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

Official details in English are given Here.

Here’s how to apply :

  1. Anmeldung ( Application) – Open to all family members. This is to prove that the family is living in Germany.
  2. 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.
  3. Your passport
  4. Forms to fill up are listed Here.Haushaltbescheinigung (KG3a) – A proof with your address (This has to be certified as per procedure below)
    • Tax identification Number ( both parents & child)
    • German Bank account ( where the transfer will be made)

Procedure:

  1. Fill in following Forms:
  2. 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.
  3. Put in the envelope:
    • Stamped Haushaltbescheinigung 
    • Antrag auf Kindergeld (filled in)
    • Birth certificate
    • Residence permit copy (Aufenhaltstitel)
  4. 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.

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Can’t make up her mind: Aspiring to become a Doctor today, tomorrow a Gardener, and next week will be a Veterinarian!

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.

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My Third Culture Kid

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?

Peek |Sneak preview of the “What Ifs?”

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We all love to have a sneak peek of all the What-Ifs” of life… It’s normal, ingrained in our human nature.

I , myself have a habit of having a sneak peek of almost everything, especially when I have the chance to do it. But, I am not so fond of taking a look through the lenses of the viewing binoculars to admire a view from a top. I don’t know why.

For me, I prefer to gaze through the vast expanse and look at a view from my own vantage point.I like this way of having perspective of things in front of me.

It’s common to see these coin-operated binoculars in any observatory deck. Even on top of Zugspitze, from the top of Alps, you can have a stunning view through these binoculars. Most of the towers I have visited in Kuwait have this same  amenities where aside from enjoying the view from above, visitors are given a chance to look further, for an intent close up of any sight they wanted to explore, for sight seeing purposes.

I had the chance to visit the Liberation Tower in Kuwait. It was one of the striking tower where you can see a great skyline of Kuwait in between skycrapers. The tour was privately arranged, and in Arabic, but I don’t really mind. I’ve always wanted to visit this tower so I grabbed the chance when the tour was offered by Aware Center.  At 372 m, the Liberation Tower is the world’s 38th tallest free-standing structure, by pinnacle height. It is standing proud & big symbolizing Kuwait’s liberation from Iraqi invasion. When we reached the 150th floor, within span of seconds, these views from the photos below  greeted me. I can’t really recall how fast it took for us to be on the top observation deck, all I know is that it was fast. Although the weather was fine, it was not a clear view because of the glass windows. Unfortunately, they are dirty, smudgy, and dusty, which is actually common in Kuwait because of frequent dust storms.

But then, it was a great experience to see the skyline of Kuwait from a view on top, almost desert. The buildings, the urban panoramic setting, with all of its beige tone dwellings. I can almost see the rummage  with all the trash piled up. The busy city center, in between the skyscrapers, and the crowded Souks (market place), and yes, the traffic jam. It’s surreal to see that this country is so small and yet managed to rise up, developed its own identity when it comes to architecture and modernization.

While I was still living in this place, I’ve always been a stranger on a daily basis, always roaming around, exploring like locals, and discovering the many facets of this city. I wanted to have a sneak preview of  everyday life in Kuwait, naturally. This particular view from the Liberation tower is no exception.

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Sometimes its good to look through the binoculars, to see things at a large range. But then, which is really a better view? After quite some time, your views will change eventually. Real experiences unfolds each facade of the postcard beauty you see .

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Sightseeing from above the tower is like a sneak peek of  “what is life in Kuwait?” It gives you a swift scan of all the what ifs of living in this place, dust, heat and all.

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In the end, it takes one to experience a certain culture in order to really know one.

Have you ever tried visiting a new place, and taking a look into the Observation binoculars and thought “what is it to live in this place? ”

This post is inspired by this week’s Daily Photo Challenge |Peek