Die Brille in Deutschland

April 19, 2011

I adore this short film 'Catch a Tuesday' by Oliver Peoples featuring Zooey Deschanel - & it's glasses. So classic!

Last year, I made the decision to correct my very fuzzy vision with glasses rather than my usual - and quite expensive - contacts. In addition to being easier on the single-income-couple's wallet, it meant I was already adapting to the glasses-wearing German culture. Seriously, there are eyeglass shops on every block. Sometimes two.

For my first pair of glasses A.M. (After the Move overseas), I went with the classic "Nerd-Brille" - the bigger, heavier, '50s-throwback frames that have been popping up all over the fashion-conscious for the last few years. Since the height of fashion around Wiesbaden are the ubiquitous furs on the senior set and the Louis Vuittons slung on the arms of the nouveau riche (not sure what statement they're trying to make, considering LV's checkered past), I'm mostly alone here in my attempt to be on-trend. You just can't tear Germans from their metal-framed, architectural specs.

This year, I knew I would need some prescription sunglasses once the sunny season stared, naturally, as I would now need to shield my eyes from the headache-inducing rays AND see at the same time. Since the gorgeous weather has started early, I enlisted the help of my amazingly multi-lingual friend (fluent in four languages, like any good European) last weekend in ordering a pair of Persols I had been coveting for years - my first prescription sunglasses ever. I realize it's somewhat cheating to take a translator, but after my husband finished having his coronary upon finding out what it costs just for his wife to be able to see, I wasn't about to take any chances.

I have found that in circumstances such as this, where there are a lot of technical words involved - and especially when a lot of money is going to be spent - it is critical to understand every last detail. In my defense, my first trip to the same store to ask a few questions ended up with a little English, some broken German, and no one really understanding any of it. I call this an all-or-nothing situation - either my German is good enough to communicate and understand everything, or I need to find someone fluent in English. Since I hate to make anyone here cater to my native language, I took some insurance that there would be as little room for confusion as possible, and even understood a lot of what was said. At least I handled my first German eye exam in German  (and at least she knew what I meant when I read the über line when she asked me to read the unter line). It's all about the little victories in these situations.

So while I will not be embracing the severe, designer-obsessed frame trends so popular with the Germans, I'm at least embracing the German way of using eyewear as a style statement rather than just a functional necessity. I am so inspired to see the comeback of glasses in my country of origin as well, whether through super-cool short films from the likes of Oliver Peoples or the creation of companies like Warby Parker, which not only offers great frames that won't break the bank, but also donates a pair to someone who can't afford it for every one sold (I plan to get at least a pair or two when I'm back in the states this summer!). Since my husband first asked me out when I was wearing my glasses, I'll take it as a sign that Dorothy Parker was indeed wrong - men DO make passes at girls who wear glasses.

Here's one more short film that single-handedly proves that glasses can be sexy:

Of course the glasses, the music and the architecture (oh, that house...) are amazing, but I love how it shows the simple sexiness of being at home, reading and black winged eyeliner. I would just like to crawl in and live in that video (and in those amazing Myriel sunglasses - be still, my heart, maybe I could sell a kidney...). Perhaps I'm on my way once I get my new frames... and some better black liner.

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische


April 18, 2011

I'm kind of obsessed with this song right now, but can you blame me? Here in Germany, the media and advertisers pick up on new songs and use them like they're going out of style. I've only heard this on the radio or seen it on VIVA once or twice, but ads and televisions spots are promoting with it like crazy. Needless to say, it's gotten stuck in my head and I can't get it out.

American media does this with new music as well, but as of late, they tend to get stuff that's really under the radar and use it in really awesome and fitting ways. I don't think Germany's marketers are quite so savvy. Case in point: Right now, ProSieben television station is using Rihanna's 'S&M' song to promote it's line-up of programming, including The Simpsons and Two and a Half Men. Now don't get me wrong, I have no problem with sex or s&m, even on daytime television, but I'm left wondering exactly how it relates to these programs. 

It's like German marketers listen in on their teenagers, hear whatever song they're listening to and slap it into a promo. C'mon guys, it takes a little more work than that! Perhaps I need to fast-track my German language skills, if only so I can get a job in marketing (which is what I did in a previous life in America) and show these folks how it's done. 

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

Jeden Tag ist Dönerstag!

April 14, 2011

My husband first told me about the existence of this t-shirt and now I've found where I can buy one for my very own. I'm sure there isn't a German who would be caught dead in it, but for this expat, I find it tremendously funny. For those of you who don't know Döner kebap, it's an amazing Turkish/German specialty that is rather like Germany's version of fast food - and yes, there's one on nearly every corner. And I say 'Turkish/German' because, much like the American-created burrito, the Döner kebap was created in Berlin. 

Even though we haven't tried too many local kebap places, we have quickly discovered our favorite - a tiny little shop in Idstein with the best pita-like, sesame bread and tasty meat that's not too fatty. The fact that the guy makes killer Pommes as well only adds to its appeal. Mmm... I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. 

The tee is also a play on words - 'Donnerstag' is the word for Thursday. Kind of like 'Thai-day Fridays' at my husband's office, Döner kebap lunch runs often occur on - you guessed it - Thursdays. I think I'll put in a request for my own Dönerstag Donnerstag for dinner!

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

Not intended to be a factual statement

April 13, 2011

Oh America, you should be ashamed of your politicians - and your media! One would almost expect both to stretch the truth for votes - or ratings - but to out and out lie? This peek at the now infamous fib - on the Senate floor, no less - by Republican Senator John Kyl about Planned Parenthood's services reaches a new low. The fact that Fox took it one step further and offered up Walgreens as a substitute for Planned Parenthood's comprehensive women's health care further shows that no one is holding these fibbers accountable for what they deliver to the American public. No matter which side of the abortion debate one falls on, lying about the facts in an attempt to take away much-needed health care services only hurts those who don't know, or can't afford, any better. Shame on you, Senator Kyl and Fox!

As outraged as this made me, Stephen Colbert has a way of focusing on the ridiculousness of such statements and offering comedic relief from what is otherwise just a very sad situation. Please do see his entire segment on Kyl and Fox's statements and enjoy a little slice of American politics (I nearly fell out of my chair laughing at this one). BTW, as someone who has had a colonoscopy, I admit I find the Walgreens option much more appealling. ;)

If you're so inclined, join the conversation on Twitter and make your own asinine statements that can then be qualified with #notintendedtobeafactualstatement. I'm feeling inspired about all the ways I can use this politically-inspired, 'get out of jail free' card... the opportunities are endless!  

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

Full swing spring

April 12, 2011

The tree blooms in Nerotal have appeared for the season

Spring, complete with its weather fluctuations and blooms aplenty, has made it's glorious entrance. While we've been spoiled with sun and record highs in the past weeks (25C in March!), the spring rain has been trying its damndest to make an appearance. As I write this, the weather today has literally flip-flopped between bright sun and chirping birds to grey skies and rain-streaked windows countless times (currently, we're enjoying the latter - boo). Oh wait, the sun is peeking out, again...

Bailey trying her best to lay in a sliver of sunshine

It turns out that amidst the new beginnings of the season, I will not be getting the job that I applied for - which is actually a good thing. I'm assuming they went with someone with actual, you know, accounting experience, which is most assuredly not me. Just the tutorials my husband was giving me caused my head to hurt. But more than having to do some serious on-the-job training, I would've had to work for the most dispicable boss. Just the other day, he said "Du bist Dümmer als du bist" (sort of the German equivalent to "you're dumber than you look") to an English-speaking colleague whilst in a meeting, thinking he wouldn't understand. What he didn't account for is that my husband would understand and relay the message. Nice.

So, long story short, three cheers for me not getting the job! In effort to let the things I actually know how to do not go to waste, I'm committed to blogging more often and submitting some freelance writing pieces to various travel blogs; I'm even working to apply for a proper freelance position here in Germany. I'm pretty confident I can write better than I can balance debits and credits, anyway.

In recent culinary news...

Not as pretty as I'd hoped, but I tried *ugh*

I attempted my first buttercream roses the other day in honor of the lovely Frau Dietz's birthday party. I'm not sure why I tried to do something so outside my abilities a mere hour before the party began (thank you, YouTube tutorial!), but I think I was trying to make up for the fact I failed to make her something special on her actual birthday. Since it is my understanding that Germans aren't big on the whole 'gourmet' cooking at home thing, most party goers were blown away by my rather lame attempt and a few even offered a sort of wife-swap situation. What a way to show my hubby how good he's got it!

Between more writing and cooking, I'd like to request a bit more weather like this, please:

Although with her always-on black fur coat, Bailey might beg to differ with me...

Off to take advantage of the chilly weather with a nice warm bath, a glass of wine and a book. I'm starting to wonder why I was so set on getting out of this whole Hausfrau situation. I think I've got it pretty good myself...

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

Ode to Real Simple food

April 07, 2011

Excuse the crap quality photo. Still looks tasty though, right?!

I think my friends here believe I'm some kind of cook who knows what I'm doing. Alright, I can bake pretty well, but actual cooking of meals is an undertaking I've only recently embraced as a deutsche Hausfrau. I must admit that this revelation is due to equal parts free time, inspiration from chef extraordinaire Frau Dietz and my Real Simple magazines. Even though I have the time, I still don't want to spend the entire day in the kitchen preparing dinner. And honestly, the more steps that are involved, the more stressed it makes me.

My Real Simple magazines (which arrives here about six times a year - thanks mom!) have proven indispensable for making meals that are easy, delicious and don't make me want to pull my hair out by the time dinner is ready. The only frustrating bit is when they call for something we don't have here in Germany - like the rotisserie chicken for the gingery peanut noodles with chicken (above - btw, absolutely delicious as cold leftovers). At least that one was an easy fix- sauteed chicken breasts in sesame oil, soy sauce and garlic worked out just as well, if not better.

Sadly, it's not always so easy. I'm eagerly awaiting another trip to the food paradise in Frankfurt know as the Kleinmarkthalle for chipotle chilis. I know there's an Hispanic counter there and I'm crossing my fingers I find what I need so I can make the delicious-looking chipotle beef tacos with cabbage and radish slaw.

Le Creuset - I love you

Last week, I made the amazing creamy chicken with biscuits, utilizing our still-new Le Creuset in lieu of a slow-cooker. If you have the food processor, I highly recommend making the easy, delicious biscuits from scratch rather than buy pre-made from the store. I lucked out that the issue I received right after buying our Le Creuset was focused on slow-cooker recipes, which are surprisingly easy - and faster! and more moist! - to convert to a proper oven pot. I've become an immediate convert and now just come up with reasons to use it!

I'm thinking the curried chicken with ginger and yogurt for tonight...

*Daily Drop Cap by Linzie Hunter, via Jessica Hische

Weekend of spring, sun & wine

April 04, 2011

Hillside vinyards in Johannisberg

Wine season officially started this weekend with the first tasting of the year, and was gloriously ushered in with bright sun and temps in the 20s (that's in the 70s F!). The weather was so gorgeous, I ended up visiting with a friend and eating decadent desserts on the winery's patio just to soak up more of the summer-like weather, rather be down in the cool wine caves. There's nothing like actual seasons of weather to make one appreciate the first truly gorgeous day of the year.

Yeah, we live here *sigh*

Sadly, the beautiful weather from Saturday turned to grey and eventual drizzle late on Sunday, but the temps were warm enough for a doggy outing to the river for a little swim. We invited doggy friend Carter and his people, thinking his thick, curly coat would enjoy a cool dip in the water. Perhaps it was Bailey's crazed behavior, or maybe the waves that would wash to shore from the wake of a boat, but he was having none of it. Paws were all that made it in.

Carter's thinking 'What the hell is that crazy dog doing 
way out there?'

Walking along the river as the weather grew grayer and colder, we happened upon the people who truly embrace every little change in weather - standing in a block-long line for ice cream. It's so funny to me how once the ice cream shops re-open for the season (because here, unlike CA, they're not year-round!), everyone flocks to them, whether the weather is in agreement or not. 

Schloss Biebrich

Meanwhile, we shivered in the park behind the Schloss for a while, enjoying the prehistoric squawks of the parrots that live in the trees (how had I not yet experienced this?!) and the wedding photography taking place on the grounds. When hunger and cold finally won out, Mexican and margaritas seemed like the obvious conclusion to such a great weekend.

I'm crossing my fingers that our next wine tasting excursion in a few weeks arrives in conjunction with the same sunny weather. One day of summer-like weather and already I can't stand being back in spring's rain! 

* Daily Drop Cap by Alejandro Paul, via Jessica Hische