Apr 17, 2014

Pros & Cons of Living in Germany: Part Neun

PRO: Maultaschen
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A friend of mine helped me to discover these little pockets of deliciousness about a year ago, and ever since that divine day, I stop at Aldi at least once a month to grab a pack or two for dinner. Maultaschen is basically the German version of ravioli--only much larger. Created in the Swabian region of Germany, maultaschen consists of an outer layer of pasta dough enclosing a filling of minced meat, spinach, breadcrumbs, and onions flavored with various spices and herbs like parsley and nutmeg (although other fillings can be found as well). You can simmer them in broth and serve them like a soup…you can boil them like regular ravioli and cover them with butter & onions (as pictured above) or a tomato sauce…or you can cut them into slices and fry them in a pan with onions (my personal favorite way to eat them). I recently discovered a maultaschen filled with cheese and bacon…basically the best discovery in the world, as you can imagine. It's interesting, though…I've never been able to find these little dough pockets in any restaurant I've eaten at in Germany. Tell me they don't only exist in home kitchens and prepackaged at grocery stores?!? I'm hoping to take a maultaschen recipe home to the states with us and try my hand at making them from scratch someday. If you've got a stellar recipe, send it my way!

CON: Queuing Confused
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Germans, you guys are sweet. You're fun to talk to, you have beautiful gardens, and delicious beer…but you don't know how to form a line worth a darn. For a country that loves structure and efficiency so much, it boggles my mind that many Germans don't grasp the concept of queuing. Or maybe they do and they just don't care to form lines? Whoever's faster and pushier wins? Who knows. Either way, I hate having to stand in line for something in Germany where there are no "official" designated lines or someone directing the line moving. I'm always looking for the beginning of a line and then there's just no line to be found. The airport is the worst of these places. Well, that and tourist attractions and bathroom lines at Oktoberfest. I once yelled at a group of German ladies trying to cut the line for the bathroom inside an Oktoberfest tent. The line wrapped around the building and the ladies just "pretended" not to notice and kept trying to sneak in at various points in the queue. They tried in front of the wrong girl (me!) because I made a scene and embarrassed them to the back of the line. Girl had to pee! Ain't nobody got time for line breakers. Honestly though, it's not just Germans (and it's not all Germans…there are always exceptions to the rule). Many Europeans have this queuing ineptness, too. Now, I'm not saying all American's are good at waiting in line…faaarrrr from it (hello Black Friday madness!)…but it's a common frustration among the American expats I've befriended here in Germany. I guess the trick is to pretend you're German and it's every man for himself? You guys know what you're doing don't you? Give it to me straight.

PRO: Autohof (Rest Stops)
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If you've never experienced a German rest stop (Autohof or Rasthof), you haven't seen the beauty of what efficient and expansive rest stops should be. Autohof's are big and can house a wide variety of things like restaurants, gas stations, restrooms, bars, hotels, showers, playgrounds, conference rooms, telephones, convenience stores, and even sometimes churches. Anything you might need on the road, an Autohof is sure to have it. Only trick is, these things are placed anywhere from 40km to 60km apart on the Autobahn and not all Autohof's offer all the amenities I listed above. Sometimes these large rest stops offer one restaurant (maybe a Burger King or a Nordsee), but often times you'll find a hot and cold food bar in addition to a restaurant chain…just to give you options. I'm sure this accommodation is especially appreciated by truckers who are on the road all the time and would love to eat more than soggy hamburgers day after day. D and I love when we can find a good Autohof that ticks all our food and fill up boxes during long travels. American rest stops are good…but they're no Autohof. Unfortunatly, not all rest stops in Germany are large Autohofs. Click here if you're interested in reading more about the how the Autobahn and rest stops work here in Germany. This guy lays it all out beautifully!

CON: Rest Stops (or lack thereof)
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While Germany does have some pretty impressive rest stops, there is one problem…they're few and far between. In America, you'll find a place to be able to get off the interstate to pee or eat just about every other mile down the road. In Germany, the rest stops (and exits to towns in general) are a bit more spread apart than what I'm accustomed to. I can't tell you how many times I've almost peed my pants while driving somewhere on the Autobahn. Or almost run out of gas because we can't find an ESSO station (that's more of a military problem than a Germany problem…our gas rations are only useable at ESSO's). There's not a McDonald's or Arby's or Starbucks off of every exit ramp here…an annoying truth many expats learn the hard way in the beginning. You also have to consider the fact that wherever you stop, you'll have to pay to pee. That quick stop at Burger King will cost you…and you can't just stop at a random restaurant in a random town to use their restroom unless you're buying something. Common courtesy, I get it. But German towns are small in some areas, so you may have to venture off the Autobahn a few miles before you reach anywhere to eat, pee, or get gas. Paying for it just adds insult to injury for me, at least. Another interesting thing…you'll see signs that say "P" for parking just off the Autobahn, but there are no bathrooms there. If you're a boy, it's no problem. If you're a girl…you best keep on driving. Sometimes they'll also be a small picnic area there, but no restaurant with food for purchase. Germans love a good picnic, even on the side of the interstate. But if you're "hangry" and wanting more sustience, keep driving for that Autohof. When we head out on driving trips here, we have to plan quite a bit more than we would have to back stateside. D and I have learned that a bag of snacks and a well-placed ESSO station plugged into our GPS is more of a requirement than a choice while traveling the roads of Germany. You live, you adapt, and you do as the Germans to. :)

PRO: Super Clean Everything

Germany is absolutely, hands down one of the most immaculate countries I've ever stepped foot into. The streets, the bathrooms, the movie theaters…clean, clean, clean! You never see trash on the side of the road (side eye, America) and I've never walked into a restaurant and felt like I was sitting in sludge (side eye, Waffle House). Granted, I'm sure there are plenty of unsavory areas of Germany, filled with graffiti and trash and less than cleanly bathrooms, but for the most part, this country is spotless. At least when you compare it to the USA or a few other select countries in Europe. I love Italy (don't hate me Italy friends!), and while I've only visited certain areas, one thing that suck out in my mind was the trash and overall dirtiness of those areas I traveled in Italy. I remember my mom getting off the airplane with me from Bolgona to Frankfurt and almost literally kissing the ground at the airport because she'd missed the cleanliness of Germany so much. I don't know if it's just because Germans cuckoo for cleaning (I mean, their recycling laws are ridiculously extensive), but they're definitely doing something right. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE clean and beautiful Germany. That whole paying to pee thing is a little easier to take knowing you're contributing to the cleanliness of the country. Just don't go into a fest bathroom. There's just no hope for those places, no matter what country you're in!

CON: Lack of acceptance of the Flip Flop (and other foot visible footwear)
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If I have one more German ask me if my feet are cold in the middle of July, I'm gonna scream and run away forever. Americans wear sandals and foot-exposing footwear from the second it hits 65°F outside until the first leaves of fall start to shed to the ground. This I know to be true because I am one of those Americans. Sandals ALL SUMMER LONG! From what I've observed, many Germans only tend to wear sandals if it's over 85°F…which happens for maybe about 3 weeks out of the year and then boom, they're back to boots and closed-toe everything. I absolutely don't understand it! Aren't your feet hot? Shoot, aren't your necks hot (they also wear scarves year-round)? Are you afraid you'll catch a cold? Do you all have foot fungus that we don't know about? Dear Lord, I hope not. I'm constantly baffled and even after 3 years abroad, I still have no answers. Oh…and don't even get me started on the Birkenstocks with socks phenomenon. I thought Americans were bad about socks and sandals…but Germans are large offenders as well. Granted, Birkenstocks are German and Germans should wear the crap out of them. But socks? Sigh...I see my dad in every sock-sandaled German that walks the street. Every spring/summer (appropriate sandal wearing times of year, right?), I have at least a handful Germans ask me if my feet are cold while wearing sandals…and at least dozens of them stare at my feet with dissension. German teenagers seem to be the only exception to this unwritten "no sandals" rule. They'll wear them more than Germans of older ages. Is it an age thing then? HELP ME! German friends, any light you can shed on why the aversion to sandals? I need to understand!

Until next time…

*Please keep in mind that all of these pros & cons are formed simply from my experiences and perspective as an American living abroad. You can find the other installments of my Pros & Cons of living in Germany hereherehere, herehereherehere & here!*

Apr 14, 2014

$350 Spring Fling Twitter Giveaway!


The Easter bunny (or Twitter bird?) is coming early with a chance for you to win $350 in cold, hard cash from a gaggle of lovely bloggers! All you've gotta do is enter the super simple Rafflecopter below and you could be well on your way to buying boat-load of Cadbury Eggs and pastel handbags for spring! ;)

This giveaway ends on April 21st, 2014. The winning entry will be selected via Rafflecopter and will be verified. This giveaway is open internationally to anyone with a PayPal account. Good luck!

Apr 11, 2014

FRESH FACE FRIDAY [& Blog Hop!]: Meet Angela & Jordan

Hey hey, Friday! Is it just me or did this week blow by at the speed of light? I honestly don't remember doing anything but staring at house listings and crunching numbers and eating tater tots...because lets face it, when you're wrapped up in making life-changing decisions, real food is optional. I ate a hot dog for the first time in years this week. It was strangely awesome. Anywho, speaking of house things, thank you all so very much for sharing your own house buying stories and giving such encouraging words to D and I during this crazy time. We feel surrounded by prayers and love and know whatever happens with this journey we've embarked on, our families and friends (and you guys!) are right by our sides cheering us on. YAY!

This weekend, D and I are thankful to be staying home and decompressing from back to back travel...and getting our heads screwed on a bit straighter after a whirlwind week. While we're recouping, you guys come right on over and link-up your blogs to the Fresh Face Friday Blog Hop! Only two more hops left before my vacation and moving hiatus, so don't miss out on meeting new bloggers (these two gals below are beyond lovely!) and making those connections while you can! Have a fab one, y'all!

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Today's first Fresh Face is Angie of Reasons to Dress…a personal style and lifestyle blog of a fashion-forward girl living in Italy! I've so enjoyed wandering through Angie's blog reading her posts about motherhood, dressing in Italy, and working in the fashion industry. Make sure to check out her series on Real Mom Street Style…lots of lovely moms from all kinds of backgrounds and style categories are featured! Head on over and learn more about Angie, friends! She sure has taught me a thing or two about dressing in Italy!

Angela's Favorite Posts:

My Favorite Posts:

Next on the docket my girl, Jordan, of the namesake blog J is for Jord. Over on Jordan's creative space, you'll find travel posts, fashion ideas, and lots of inspirational quotes posted each Tuesday. One of my favorite things, though? I think I may have found a bigger Disney fan than I am…look out for Jordan's Divinely Disney series soon! Girl after my own heart, for sure. Take some time to visit with Jordan today…tell her Casey sent ya! :)

Jordan's Favorite Posts:

My Favorite Posts:
Tips & Tricks: Evernote

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Welcome to the
FRESH FACE FRIDAY BLOG HOP!
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