Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Sunshine List

Another cold, late winter weekend in Oberfranken. The clouds hung dark and heavy over Coburg all weekend and we never made it above freezing. Despite the fact that we have seen a few the first hints of Spring--little green sprouts, more and more sunny days--this weekend has made winter feel never ending. I am starting to fantasize about the smell of green grass, the loud, excited song of the birds, and the never ending sea of colors of spring flowers. So, with my blooming daffodils on every window sill, I am starting spring early this year. From now on, I will be celebrating spring! Bring on the color and sunshine.

Here is a list of things that I love and that bring me color and sunshine (no matter how evil German weather is trying to be). Make your own list. I promise it will make you feel lucky as a leprechaun. :-)

1. Weekends or any day that I get to hang out with Peter. He's fun, funny and always leaves a smile on my face. I could cook and eat all day everyday with him!

2. My family. The best ever. Enough said.

3. Animals - I LOVE National Geographic Wild, and the pictures you get when searching "baby animals" on Google, and my dog J.J., and all dogs ever.

4. Fresh food and healthy eating. Peter and I have really been on a health kick lately. We are cooking a lot and trying to use as many fresh/healthy ingredients as possible. Our latest amazing dishes have included middle eastern chicken with hummos, salad and flat bread, flavorful turkey burgers with baked sweet potato fries, and delicious breakfasts of yogurt and fruit or whole wheat english muffins with my new love, hard boiled eggs. What is not to love about treating your body right? (For exceptions see #9.)

Continuing on that theme...

5. Yoga. Okay, it's not ballet or jazz or lyrical (my true passions) but, it is a nice, inexpensive second considering my resources right now. I have no money and have tons of yoga dvds downloaded on to my computer. Yoga keeps me fit and relaxed, from the comfort of my living room, for the cheap price of 0 Euros a month.

6. Pastels, my newest art medium. I suck at them but they are fun and don't require the set up that painting does. I can use them when I only have a half an hour extra time.

7. King of Queens. Hilarious and sweet. Now that I have a live-in-boyfriend, I get what those marriage sitcoms are all about.

8. Loose leaf green tea.

9. Krapfen (Berliner) the best baked good the Germans ever made (basically a jelly-filled doughnut).

10. Reading and writing my journal.

Despite the steel gray clouds that have kept the sun away all weekend long, this Sunshine List makes my mood feel full of color, happiness and love. Circumstances only get you down if you let them. And here is to not letting them.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

California Dreamin', On Such a Winter's Day

As a Californian, February is by far the most difficult month for me in Germany. While all my friends and family back home enjoy their sunny, spring-like (and sometimes summer like days), I am freezing my ass off in a gray world of clouds and snow. Springtime comes early in California; winter is short. By February it is not at all uncommon to have a handful of days or more about 65 degrees (18 Celsius)...people wear their shorts, my sister goes to the beach and sunbathes, everyone is happy.

This is at the same time that we here in Germany are in the deep, dark midst of winter. The days are getting longer, but that doesn't mean they are any more light. The only colors that exist are dark gray, light gray and medium gray. There's a little rain, a little snow and a whole lot of wet. For most Germans this is just normal. For a Californian, this is hell on earth.

This is not to say that I actually feel like I am in a living hell. The weather is terrible but I like to keep my chin up. So, this Californian has to be a little creative. How do you brighten up your days when there is no sun to be found? Well, for starters, I fill my inside world with color. It may be gray outside but the inside of my apartment is filled with flowers and plants of all sorts. I have tulips and daffodils, parsley and ivy. A little green, yellow and red goes a long way. Additionally, I need a feel good playlist. I listen to upbeat songs, my favorite doesn't matter, as long as they make me feel good.

The most important remedy for this dreary situation is to be surrounded by love. February 14th has always been a favorite day of mine, mostly because my family (my dad) always made a big deal about it. But, now, I use it as an excuse to tell everyone around me how much I love them. I got really lucky this weekend and was surrounded by cool people that really made me happy. I got to see my awesome German friend Kathrin who lives too far away and who has become a really great friend of mine. I spent a lot of wonderful quality time with Peter, cozy in our house full of flowers. And I got to see a couple other friends who made me smile! People are the cure to the mid-winter blues!

I am so lucky to have all these wonderful people surrounding me. My whole family was together this weekend, like always on the weekend of Valentines Day, for P.A.M's Run. My cousins planned another amazing event this year and almost everyone turned out for it. I wanted to be there with all my heart and I hope that everyone knew that and felt it. I felt the enthusiasm of this wonderful and inspiring event all the way over here. And it made me feel both sad to miss it but also really lucky to have all those people in my life. I have a wonderful and loving family! I am so glad!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I hope you have a wonderful day, full of love and happiness. And, even if the sun is hidden behind the clouds, I hope it's full of sunshine!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Erfurt- Ein Ausflug

This weekend was Peter's big 2-1! Of course, that means diddly-squat over here. But that didn't stop us from celebrating or from treating it like a special Birthday. "To drinking beer with my parents (in the U.S.)" seemed to be the toast of the weekend.

To celebrate and to do something (affordable) just the two of us, we took a day trip to the nearby city of Erfurt. Erfurt is an old East German city, about an hour north of our home. It has a long history and is well-know as place of historical interest and great beauty. It was established and first documented in the 700s and grew so large that the old-city had to be expanded and now contains two walls. Martin Luther once called the city home and it contains the oldest synagogue in Europe!

Die Stadt hat uns sehr gut gefallen! We sure did enjoy it. It is full of history and quite exquisite. The focus of the city are the two massive cathedrals towering side-by-side on the top of a hill, looming over the city (this effect is especially ominous--or mystical, depending on your beliefs--at night when the fog rolls in). The city is set up in a more Southern European style than most German cities, with many small squares dotted throughout. Although the DDR removed many of the cities historical buildings while it was still intact, much of the medieval architecture remains. Almost every other house Peter and I saw looked like it had been blown around a little too much in the wind and leaned like the Tower of Pizza. In addition, the city boasts an amazingly charming river, lined with cafes, restaurants and homes.

Peter and I made many plans to take all future visitors there, so if the prospect of seeing us isn't enough to get you over here, maybe a visit to Erfurt is. We had a lovely, romantic time and think that the city must be even better in the summer when we aren't freezing our asses off (it was -7 C when we went). Additionally, there is a town not too far from Erfurt, Weimar, that is supposed to be even more beautiful that we need to check out. But, if you are in Bayern and looking for an excellent day trip, Erfurt is it!