How I embraced my new Life in Seasons

Last year ( June 2016) was the start of my life in seasons and this month is the mark of my 1 year stay here in Germany.Yes, time flies, it goes fast.

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Expat Life in Germany : Enjoying outdoors and getting active

I’m into running lately and the other day, I went for a run and as I chilled down in the garden, my husband commented : “You’re running now, you’re like the Germans..” I laughed and replied : I”m also like the Dutch, I cycle now more.. a lot…also I eat potatoes and sausages more than I eat rice”.

Mind you, I grow up in a completely different topography, climate of only 2 seasons– rainy and summer with a humidity that can make your blood boil.First time that I’ve seen a real snow in my life was last year in AustriaThis alone makes a whole lot reason why my Expat Life now in Germany is a life-changing one. For those of you who are following my Expat Blog stories, I am sure you’ve read in my posts and seen in photos how I embraced all these changes in my life. Ironically,  seeing all the different seasons here have changed me, at least from the way I look at life right now.

“Just like  seasons…people change..”

Now I  dressed differently and more functional, totally very -German-like, always prepared for the rain. I totally learned how to dress myself for what the weather calls for, every single day. I never imagined before that I needed separate jackets for winter, for summer, and spring or fall. All the heavy bundles of winter clothing and never-ending layers…and shoes for walking, trekking, hiking and for snow. My life before from 50 degrees Celsius  heat to frigid negative temps is something that I always recall and laugh how I’ve learned to appreciate each moment. Sometimes I feel that the weather really affects the way I go about my day.Can you relate?

I realized that just as the seasons are important in the nature’s cycle, it is also important in my own life.My days before were only composed of rains and heat, humid, stormy and for quite sometime, a scorching summer and delirious dust storms.

The thing is, experiencing a life in seasons is totally different when you only see it while visiting another country.  It’s another story when you’re just a tourist and wanting to experience snow in Winter compared to actually living in it everyday. The cold, long German winters and fickle weather drives me nuts but now I get used to it. I guess that if you’re an Expat like me, you would agree that adjusting in new seasons is always part of any Expat life.

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My first sights of Cherry Blossoms in Bavaria and in the Netherlands. Definitely a very beautiful first season of blossoms.

The current season of my life now is Spring ( or Frühling) , a few more weeks and comes Summer. I had the privilege to enjoy Spring to the fullest by seeing it in full Dutch colors, and that was made possible by visiting Keukenhof Gardens last Easter in the Netherlands. I really love tulips but they are very expensive  both in Manila &  Kuwait, it’s very rare to find it, sold  only in big flower shops. In Holland, they are an ordinary sight, like weeds, growing in every household and empty spaces.Before, I only feast my eyes on it in internet or in magazines and thought they were so beautiful to be real. Seeing all the spring flowers in bloom and watching how the plants & trees regain their ‘life‘ made me understand about the time of recreating myself, first allowing the growth to pinch in, so I can be a better ‘Me’ . Spring is a beautiful season where I rekindled my passion for drawing and painting. It’s like a part of me had resurrected and my dreams were completely infused with colors.

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Nature never fails to amaze me.This beauty is one of the early blooms in Spring in Germany along with the yellow Daffodils in our garden.

I believe that Spring is the season in our life of new growth. It is the period of our lives where we clear out the old to make way for the new. It is a time where we create new beginnings for ourselves and our lives.

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Summer adventure : Trekking the crater of  a Volcano in on one fine Summer day last year.

Then comes Summer. I arrived in Germany last summer. The heat without AC is also something I got used to. A 30+ degrees heat can also be  toasty here.Germans love the sun, oftentimes sunbathing and swimming. Germany is pretty in a sunny day with lots of outdoor activity to enjoy. Summer season is the return of the Dandelions, like a season to enjoy ourselves. It is a time sitting in Biergartens ( Beer gardens) , grilling and BBQ parties in the garden! During this period we feel bright and happy.

We are loving life and reaping the rewards for the positive changes that we have made.

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Discovering nature: The Echinops Ritro and wasps are a typical sight during Summer in Germany

Last summer after I left Kuwait and before going to Germany, I squeezed some time to visit my family in Philippines and let them see my daughter for the first time. I managed to get some adventure with my friends by hiking and trekking along the crater of a Volcano. It was a long time dream as well. I missed home and my island -hopping adventures . Summer has always been my favorite season, but not much during summer months in Kuwait and Ramadan period.  Summer in Germany has been a fascinating one as well. The 9 PM sunsets are always magical, long summer days gives us more time to wander around. I discover the Bavarian lifestyle and the enigma of Biergartens, German sausages and lots of outdoors. I tasted new dishes and explore our new home like crazy. I can’t get enough of the thought realizing that I am eating my dinner while the sky is still bright where in other parts of the world, it would be pitch-black already.

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Nothing beats summer sunsets, especially when seen behind bodies of water. I have watched numerous sunsets here in Bavaria where the sun turns the sky in pink and orange glory .Summer was and would always be a happy season in my life.

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Catching some amazing sky one fine Autumn in Bavaria

Oh then there comes Fall. Another first time for me .

I love all the nostalgic feelings I had watching the trees lost its leaves and everything just turned into golden, yellow rustic beauty. The sound of the crisp dried leaves when I walked on them is so therapeutic.The views in our old town is breathtaking during Fall. I have been obsessing in photography and its a time I appreciate nature even more. I have indulged myself in baking Apple pies and my first carving of a real pumpkin. My daughter enjoyed her first trick or treat, Fasching & Halloween here in Germany. I struggled with the language barrier and tried to integrate into the German culture so hard that everyday seems like a hurdle for me to overcome. Another life-changing experience was cycling with my daughter, another first time for me and having a taste of  Oktoberfest by seeing our local Herbstfest here in Ingolstadt. The Beer culture of Germany is really a pride and Bavarian culture is truly unique in this region. I love everything about the traditional German Tracht– Lederhosen and Dirndls!

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The pride and beauty of Traditional German Tracht ( Dirndls)

Autumn is the season of our life where change occurs and we need to let go of the old. During this period of our life we recognise and feel the need for change in our lives. In order for us to change we need to let go of things from our old self, just like the leaves falling from a tree. We may for example need to let go of negative feelings, bitterness, the past, limiting beliefs and traditions,and the most important — limiting forgiveness.

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One of my favorite photos of the beautiful Autumn  here in Bavaria
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A pavement of old self…giving way to a new season.

It was never easy. It is hard integrating into a new culture, especially when I can’t express fully what I want since I don’t know German yet.  I know that failure to let go causes me to remain stuck in my  life and hinders any positive change.  I needed to shred  my old self to finally give in to a new me, and Oh yes, I got my Aufenhaltstitel! I am now holding a legal and official  residency here in Germany. Just like the trees that undergoes harsh pruning time during Fall, their leaves must fall in order for them to grow. Pruning time comes in a natural way.

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My new life starts here…Bavaria, the land of Lederhosen & Dirndls, where the River Danube flows–my second home.
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Nostalgic moments in One fine sunset in Souk Sharq in Kuwait

This photo shows one of my favorite places in Kuwait. This was taken by my friend who made our wedding photos. This is the dock where the traditional ‘Dhows’ and fishing boats lazily docked after a busy fishing day. Just like the orange-red skies during Autumn in Germany, Kuwait has beautiful skies approaching Ramadan season. Remembering ‘Ramadan’ and my life back in Kuwait makes me grateful that I have the chance to see the best of both worlds.

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My first view of the great mountain, Alps in Austria.

Then comes Winter.

I was not really looking forward to the cold. I don’t even have winter clothes.My first Winter Wonderland experience in Austria has been unforgettable as well as exciting as we welcome the New Year . When I told my husband that its my first time to experience snow and winter, He really made sure to bring  me to a place where I had an unforgettable snow-coma! It was a pleasure seeing my daughter eating and jumping in snow for the first time .My first Winter is totally unexpected, exhilarating, freezing, but then it changed my views about snow and the long cold winter days.Do you know how hard it is to push a stroller in snow? or walk into an icy street that shouts “Achtung, glatteis!”

Honestly, I like snow, but not the cold. The cold makes me feel depressed and very un-motivated to do anything. Everywhere you see is white, gloomy and my feet is freezing plus the stress of dressing up a toddler in heavy winter clothes is always a struggle!

Winter is the season where we experience challenges and difficulties in our life. It can feel like a cold and lonely time. Our life may appear bleak. We may be dealing with storms in our life which creates fear and anxiety for us. However, we need periods of winter in our lives.

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Watching frozen berries with the Alps in the background.

These winter times provide us with important learning and understanding. It is through the challenges and difficulties in life that we learn our most valuable lessons. Winter also helps us to appreciate and be grateful for what we have. Without periods of winter in our lives we can take for granted all of the goodness that we experience.

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Christkindlmarkt ( Christmas market) and my first Christmas in Germany.

My first Christmas market experience, our first Christmas in Germany and my first time to make snow man with my daughter makes this season a festive one.This is also the season where I got so sick, both me and my daughter had colds, flu, and we felt like the grey winter is totally dampening our moods. Another highlight is the time when we walked on top of a frozen lake  which is  so nerve-wrecking !

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There is a time and a season for everything…

Indeed, time flies and I realized that soon, by next summer, at the end of this month, I will be 1 year here, I will be a year older, wiser, and integrating fully in my new culture and loving life in new intensity. I feel so much more at home now here, because I embrace the changes, I let myself grow. I have come to love “Ordnung“( or Order ).

Every season has special memories that makes me the person that I am now.

Any thoughts on this post? Have you ever relocated to another country? How was your experience? Are you also affected by the seasons?

 

 

Pussy willow home decor

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Twigs with bulbs with fur-like an animal- Wow!

A typical Bavarian home decoration during early days of Spring up to Easter is a bunch of pussy willow branches decorated with painted plastic eggs hanging on them. But it can also be a great home decor to create a “Spring-y“ambiance. The name of pussy willow in German-Palmkätzchen  translates as “palm kittens” or “willow kittens.” Same thing. Since they don’t have many palm trees in Germany, so they use pussy willow for Easter decorations.

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These delightful branches of pussy willow were sold at the local ‘Wochenmarkt ‘ ( wet market)  we visited  this morning. I don’t wanna go home without grabbing some because I really adore these branches at first sight. I didn’t even know what it’s called so we just asked the woman who’s selling these twigs. It’s Palmkätzchen, she said. My husband called them sticks but for me they are so much more. I mean, they really look nice, in a very unique way. Most important thing, here in Bavaria, they are a real sign of spring! Most locals I have seen today are carrying a bunch in their hands, from out and about and even while cycling way home.

The silk-like buds that cover the branches appeal to the Chinese apparently, who use them as a major display at Chinese New Year.  In Northern and Eastern Europe and in America they are often used as a replacement for palm leaves (a practical issue rather than aesthetic, I think – palms don’t grow naturally that far north) on Palm Sunday.But in Philippines, we grew up using palm leaves during Palm Sunday.The blessed wreaths are placed in doors, believing that the household will be protected from tribulations, or natural disaster like lightning strike.

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The pussy willow is the first bush that blooms after the harsh winter. No wonder it is a prominent Easter symbol because out of its dry twig, bursts a beautiful flower of life.It has many uses beyond decoration and spanking.  Willow branches have long been used for weaving baskets and furniture, and even coffins.  The ancient Egyptians as well as back in the eighteenth century, and Oxfordshire man used ground willow bark to cure rheumatic pain and this eventually led to the development of aspirin. A more recent use is in biomass burning to generate electricity, for example at the Drax power station in Yorkshire.

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Easter is a big thing here in Germany and Germans take the egg-decorations seriously. The shops are flooded now with so many Easter decorations, especially the painted plastic eggs, easter bunnies and other mementos.The busyness of having an Ósternbaum (or  Easter Tree) is also one of the traditions which every household look forward. I guess every house also have a vase of these pussy willows.

If you are into decorating your living room, or you want to create a centerpiece for the coming Easter, you can try Pussy willows for an ideal minimalist home decor.Put it in a white transparent vase without water and allow them to dry. If you got them shipped, simply remove them from packaging and allow them to start drying.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend and all is well.

Thank you for reading my friends. Stay tuned for more local sightings stories. Oh by the way, did you know that here in Germany, the egg box which normally comes in 12 pieces only comes in 10? Dunno why but I only found out today…

What surprising things you have learned lately?Any thoughts?

 

 

 

 

Life without TV

So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall.  ~Roald Dahl

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Life without television

For almost half a year now, we don’t own bought a TV.

Yes, you heard that right, almost 210 days now without the Bubble tube in our humble home. With today’s  Plasma & LED flat screen TV generation, these days without television made a  difference in our lives. It looks weird not having it if you are used to having a TV in your house. It’s like not having a smartphone. For me, I don’t have such relationship with TV, nor having it didn’t make me  feel outdated or insecure. Although our guests are wondering why we don’t have it. Since they  don’t  have anything to watch while they ogle in our living room,they can just admire our Solar Eclipse photos beautifully hanged in our wall.

I’m one of the person who can say that I can live without TV. This is a personal choice, and not because I am trying to be different or minimalist.It is as normal as some people can’t live without their phone, their car, coffee, or even Lush’s bath bombs, but some can. It’s not something that you’ll die when you don’t watch TV.When most homes today have one or more TV, adding up the smartphones and tablet technology, I can really see that the concept of having a TV in one’s household depends on personal choices from person to person & their lifestyle.

After all, you’re the only one who can dictate what kind of relationship you can have with television.

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Are you still enamored with Black & white TV?

What kind of relationship  do you have with your TV?

I remember seeing my father fixing our television. He died at a young age and my fond memories of seeing him trying out his best to be the clever Handyman technician-trouble shooting geek to fix our television set when it’s not functioning well. Way back then, flat screens are not yet the fad, but rather TV’s with big picture-tubes. Obviously you can’t hang them in the wall. They come in compartments and stands. My grandmother even owned a TV with partitions. Eventually, it turned into a side table. We loved to watch cartoons in our black  n’ white TV as a family but later on we had the colored one. It is already a prized possession that we have. Colored TV’s on those days are expensive and you need to have a special antenna or subscribe in a cable connection to get nice shows.We have restrictions though, we can only watch a few hours on weekdays and after nap on weekdays. My mother says we can’t watch too much TV because of electric bill. I remember that many of our neighbors doesn’t have a TV yet so they flocked to one of our neighbor who placed their TV in their garden so people can watch some favorite soap operas or sports match.

Life was so simple back then.

Watching TV  means unquestionable happiness, a privilege especially  for someone surrounded with poverty .

When I was living in Kuwait, we had TV provided in our flat. Most flats are equipped with modern televisions and buying flat TV is common for Expats since you don’t have to worry about electric bill.You can have as many as electric appliances as you can. We subscribe to local cable from Philippines so me & my flatmates can watch local news from our home country. Normally we only watch TV during mornings while having breakfast and after work. It’s the only thing you have if there is a Sandstorm. I admit that TV was never a necessity for me. It’s not like that my world would crumble if I don’t watch the latest TV shows or sitcoms. Even with the soaring heat in Kuwait, I managed to be outgoing and spent less sitting in front of it. I known some Expats who can watch  TV all day long and can’t live without it. It was accepted as a “favorite hobby“, right? Our Harris has 2 TV. He would place one of his TV out there in front of his room so he can enjoy watching Football match with his friends while drinking Sheesha. Inside the most traditional tent and Diwaniya Halls in Kuwait are  big flat screen TV where they can enjoy good Arabic Ghawa coffee, tea & dates. Having the TV background adds to the coziness of their habitual Diwaniya.

Watching TV is a  way to temporarily disconnect yourself from your world &  lose yourself  in another dimension, in a medium called TV. One can find a sense of belonging while they’re absorbed watching their drama series, beauty online shopping, or for men–sports. Nowadays, who needs a TV when you have smartphones?

“Television has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other.”

~ Ann Landers

When  we had our daughter, I watched TV as seldom as the raindrops in Kuwait. I even watched news in zero volume! Looks weird, right? For the reasons that I don’t wanna wake up my daughter when she’s napping. Our living room was connected to her room so the white noise from TV is something I try to avoid. They say that letting your child watch TV makes you a bad parent, but what do you call when parents letting their kids watch You tube, nursery videos in their iPad? If you think that watching TV is nothing but a waste of time compared to reading, then what can you call a person who is glued to a computer, or his/her phone? Bottom line is, everything that is excessive, is abusive.

Watching TV can be a me time for others who just want a simple break and time to relax. Going home from a hard day’s work and  to be in your couch , watching with  warm coffee or tea means total bliss.  It is like cuddled up with potato chips with your favorite book. A simple escape or retreating. It’s the same when I absolutely enjoy my own “me time“when I go on my Wandertags,cycling, or baking goodies for my family. I knew someone that instead of watching TV, she just clean, clean & clean.It’s therapeutic for her.

If I prefer reading interesting Blogs, your Blog for example instead of watching TV, does it mean something? After all, whatever medium it is, every one of us has their own ways of “escaping “from this crazy world and signing-in to another world. It becomes a habitual log-in activity.

Do you have a favorite TV show? How often do you watch TV?

 

 

 

 

7 Arabic Foods I have learned to Love

When i moved to Kuwait 8 years ago , one of the culture shock I’ve faced is the Food . Like for example , I have never seen a Kubz in my life before , or a Tahini , Kofta and Samossa but seeing it here almost everyday have really transformed my food preferences &  taste buds . I have come to love the  authentic Arabic flavors and the aroma that comes with it .

There are so many delicious food to choose from , but these 7 Arabic foods have become my instant favorites &  that  have learned to love them , and  on sidenote ; this post makes me hungry !

 

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Fattoush Salad

1.Fattoush Salad – I discovered Fattoush by accident , it’s one of those times i don’t know what to order but i wanna try it  and since then ,this is my favorite salad .Fattoush is a delicious salad made from toasted or fried pieces of pita  bread  (khubz ‘arabi) combined with various greens and other veggies  such as radish and tomatoes. Fattoush includes vegetables and herbs according to season and taste. The vegetables are cut into relatively large pieces .

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Shish Tawouk

2.Shish Taouk -This is a traditional  Arabic marinated chicken .Normally comes either as a sandwich or on a platter with some salad, sometimes with french fries or rice . The Turkish version is generally served with rice, yogurt, and skewer-grilled vegetables. My favorite was  with Toum (a garlic paste sauce), or Hummus.

 

 

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Chicken Biryani

 3.Biryani-If i am really hungry , then i could really devour a Biryani . This hearthy dish is typically Indian but here in Kuwait you can find so many variations of this. I love the mix of the traditional spices , rice & the meat /chicken . It’s really a must in big celebrations here.

 

 

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Shawerma

4. Shawerma -With hundreds of Shawarma food outlets here , everyone has their own version of this famous Arabian dish . I consider this as Arabic version of Hamburgers . My favorite ones are from the quaint restaurant Wadi Rum & Kurdo . They’re so good and reasonably priced .It’s  really an all around to-go food!

 

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Falafel

5. Falafel – The first time I saw Falafel ,i thought they are  fried Kiwi fruit !Falafel is tasty  & delicious  deep fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas , Fava beans  or both. Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern food. It commonly served in a Pita which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread . This can be enjoyed as toppings to salad or an appetizer .

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Kebab Sandwich

6.Kebabs – Kebabs are typical Arabic food made from either chicken , beef , and other regular kebab platters which is usually served with french fries ,grilled tomatoes ,hummus & other dips . Almost every joint in Kuwait has a Kebab diner .Most of them offers home delivery & take away .

 

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Uhm Ali

7.Uhm Ali – Uhm Ali is my favorite Arabic dessert .Umm ali (Ali’s Mother) is a scrumptious dessert originated from Egypt. It can be served with a  dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top.  After a big meal ,It’s always great to finish up with this delicious dessert . I like the one loaded with pistachio and served warm .

 

 

What about you ? Do you have any liking on Arabic foods ? How was your experience ?

Thank you for stopping by !