Monday, November 30, 2009

Busy Weekend!

Sorry for the lack of posts, we had a busy "holiday" weekend here in Hagen! Most of my Friday was spent in the kitchen cooking and baking away for smaller "team" Thanksgiving. While the club hosted a meal for us on Thursday, we decided that Thanksgiving wouldn't actually be complete without pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes.

Saturday morning I spent baking cookies, watching a cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie, and wrapping presents. Then it was game time followed by a road trip to see my brother. :)

We got back late last night and spent most of the day relaxing, except for a trip to buy Christmas decorations and a rebounding session for me while John got some extra shots up.

Oh... and a trip to a new grocery store we haven't tried out yet where we found some yummy Mozzarella sticks! It sure doesn't take much to make my day over here. I couldn't resist and ended up having them for dinner. Oh so healthy, I know. But, at least I got my dairy in for the day.

Tomorrow's agenda: clean, and make chicken and dumplings for our tree decorating party tomorrow night! I can't believe tomorrow starts the month of December.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you grateful for today? Here is my list:

I am thankful I serve a loving God who cares about the smallest of details about my life.

Forgiveness and Grace.

An amazing husband who loves me, cherishes me, and gently leads me. I appreciate his work ethic, his patience, his sense of humor, and so much more.

A family that loves me no matter what and supports us in our adventure. We couldn't live the life that we do without them.

Friends, near and far, who are there to pray for me, laugh with me, and are understanding of our lifestyle. I love that although we may not stay in touch daily, we always start off right where we left off.

I am thankful for the soldiers, past and present, who unselfishly serve our country.

Good health and modern medicine.

A roof over my head, a warm shower, heat... and food to eat. I realize that not everyone in the world has such luxuries. And thus, I am incredibly grateful that I do.

The house God seemingly placed in our laps this summer. I am thankful the ceilings are high enough that John doesn't have to worry about ducking, and that the ping pong table in the basement makes him so happy. :) I enjoy spending time on the deck and appreciating the nature God created that surrounds us. Oh, and I love being able to take bubble baths!

A job that my husband loves. I am glad he likes going to work every day, and that we've been able to gain so much life experience because of it.

The opportunity we've had to travel. I've seen more of the world then I would have ever dreamed of seeing... and yet there is so much more to discover.

Technology. I don't know how we would survive over here without it. I am thankful that I can "see" our family although we are miles apart. I am also glad we can listen to our church from back home and to a multitude of other pastors as well. We can even watch American television thanks to our Slingbox! The Today Show just came on! :)

For the little things in life, that really shouldn't be considered little: Target, lattes, candles, cute clothes, shoes, decorating blogs, comfy couches, fluffy down comforters, crockpots, grills, yummy recipes, books, magazines, Skype, dishwashers, cameras, summers at home... and the list could go on and on!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Spice Cookies!

The aroma of spice cookies is filling my kitchen. I couldn't be more excited. I love recipes that have been passed down, and this one happens to be from my grandma. They are my favorite cookie that she makes, and always bring a smile to my face when I see that she brought them along. She packages them just perfectly and somehow they are all the same shape and size as well.

This is my first attempt at making them myself, and it was a success! (Okay, maybe not the shape, but the taste at least!)

Now... off to make a cup of tea and to have dessert before dinner.

Pictures from our trip home.

Getting ready to head to the funeral:

Saying good-bye to our sweet little nieces. When we see them again they will have changed so much!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This will be quick, as I am in the middle of trying to get ready to head to the grocery store and start dinner before we have some friends over!

I am currently thinking about hospitality. It is something John and I really want to be good at but usually find ourselves slacking in this area. And, I would say it is my fault that we aren't more gracious with our home and our time. Not because I don't love having people over, but because I put too much pressure on myself for everything to be "perfect."

So today, as I was chatting with a friend online, I invited her and her boyfriend over for dinner and some Wii leaving myself not a whole lot of time to get ready for them to come over. My apartment is a mess, and I haven't been to the grocery store yet. However, I am slowly starting to realize that having people means you just have to extend an invitation or it won't ever get done!

This summer, while at a small group, I said I thought hospitality was one of my strengths. Now that I think about it though, I don't think it is something I do as a natural rhythm of my life. I want that to change. I do love having people over and entertaining, but entertaining certainly isn't the same as hospitality.

What about you? Is hospitality a strength of yours? If so, please share your secret in the comment section... I would love some advice in this area! As for me, I'm off to get dinner ready!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Shopping finds in Dortmund.

Well, over a week ago I told you to stay tuned for our shopping finds in Dortmund, but after taking an unexpected trip back home I didn't get around to doing a post on this. Since I am sitting here trying to warm up after my walk to the grocery store in the rain, I figured it would be great time to share with you.

My new....

(Drum roll please.)


This lovely little contraption makes espresso on the stove top! After doing some online research, I was set to purchase one off Amazon. So, when I walked into a cute little shop in Dortmund to see an entire display of these things I was beyond excited.

After we found my moka pot, we ventured into Starbucks to see if they had any syrup for sale. I found a little bottle, and took it check out when the barista starting chattering away in German. Sheepishly I asked him if he spoke English. He then proceeded to tell me that he could sell me one of their stock bottles which was a much better value! And, he even threw in a pump with it.

And here is the moka pot in action:

Now I am all set to make my own lattes. Obviously, I'm a big fan of the little things in life.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christmas Markets.

We've been to Christmas markets in Belgium, France, and Germany. But, I think Germany wins for the best all around markets... hands down.

The markets opened on Thursday night, so Friday night John surprised me by taking me downtown to walk around and enjoy the festivities. Of course, the entire time I was on the look out for one thing....

Warm, mouth-watering, candied almonds.

I found them at several stands, but they were clearly not warm... already packaged ones. And then, I spotted them...

Not only were they warm, they were HOT, as in (I just might burn my tongue hot). But oh, so delicious.

Let the holiday season begin! And yes, next time I will take my camera.

Friday, November 20, 2009

If a picture says a thousand words....

This one must say more.

I was holding one niece in my arms while frantically trying to get my camera out of my coat pocket to capture this sweet moment in time. Our little two year old niece is carefully placing flowers on her great-grandmother's tombstone.

This, to me, is a celebration of a life well lived. My niece may not know exactly what she is doing here, but her sweet innocence says it all. She loved going to "grandma's" to walk through the courtyard, to find the fishies, and to chatter away with the other residents.

It saddens me that our (future) children won't get to know their great-grandma here on this earth. I pray that someday they will get to meet her in a much better place... where there will be no sickness, no sadness and no tears.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Back in Germany.

I arrived back in Germany yesterday morning, after a whirlwind of a week back home. I could barely drag my body out of bed this morning, if I weren't worried about being able to sleep tonight I would have slept all day!

Jet lag + a mean cold + an emotional week = pure exhaustion.

John arrived back in Germany on Saturday and had practice half an hour later. Then on Sunday he made a seven hour road trip to Berlin and played a game that evening. Quite frankly, I don't know how he did it. His strength amazes me. It is one of his many qualities that I admire.

Anyway... I will write more about the trip home later, I am just not feeling particularly inspired at the moment. Thank you for your prayers, they were much needed. While it was a tough trip home, it was also special in so many ways.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Quick Update.

Plenty more tears have been shed the past couple of days. Grandma passed away last night. Needless to say, it has been a rough time over here. Wishing we could be there to say our last words, remembering back on better times, wondering how she took she a drastic turn when she seemed just fine two weeks ago. We go from shedding tears of sorrow to tears of joy, knowing that she will be with her creator. And, wondering if there is Scrabble in Heaven.

We just booked plane tickets to head back home as the funeral is Wednesday. My brother was here for the weekend and was supposed to stay through tomorrow, but is graciously taking us to the airport as well. This has also been hard on me, as every minute I have with him is so precious.

Please pray for us. We know you are... couldn't have gotten through the past couple days without it. Thank you. We appreciate you more than you'll ever know.

Please pray for peace, comfort, safe travel, and pray that our time with John's family would be incredibly sweet. That is what Grandma would have wanted... for us all to be together celebrating her departure from a fallen world into a new life with her Heavenly Father.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Today is one of those "I'm not going to bother putting on makeup because it will all come off anyway" kind of days.

I am struggling this morning. Life over here is such a blessing, but that doesn't mean that it is always easy.

We received a message when we woke up that John's grandmother is not doing well, that most of the family is getting back to see her in the hospital. And here we sit... many many miles away not knowing what to do. At times like this, it would be so much easier if we could just hop in the car to be close to loved ones.

The human side of me, can't seem to understand why God would allow us to be home most of the Fall, and then bring us overseas right before she got sick. I know though, that God's ways are higher than my own, and that He sees things and knows things I may never know. At the same time I am thankful for the extended time we got to spend with her. I am glad we were able to throw her a 85th Birthday party, that we got to see her fashion show, and for the night we stayed late and played cards with her way past her bedtime. It's easy to feel guilty though, wishing we would have stayed even longer that night.

I am praying for a miracle. If it is God's will, I pray that He would give grandma the strength the make it through. The selfish side of me wants her to be there when I get home in May... to be sitting there waiting for us to play cards with her again. At the same time, I know that in due time, whether it is weeks, months, or years, she will have the chance to meet her creator face to face.

This short clip
was an encouragement to me this morning. I don't have to pretend it is easy to be over here, feeling helpless. I just have to pray that God would get us through it.

Please pray for John's grandma... for strength, comfort, and the will to make it through. And, please pray for us... for wisdom and for peace. I am thankful I serve a God that cares about every single detail of my life.

Do me a favor today, go hug someone and tell them you love them.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day trip to Dortmund.

John had a day off, so we decided to visit a city only 20 minutes from here. We knew there was an Ikea off the Autobahn, so we decided to go get a cookie sheet, wander around for design inspiration, and get some goodies in the cafe. We then ventured into the city center to meander about. I remembered to take some photos, just for you.

Our drive from Hagen to Dortmund, what a pretty view!

They are assembling this in the city center... full of real trees! What an undertaking, I can't wait to see the finished product.

A close up of what appears to be quite the undertaking. I wonder how many trees they will end up using. Incredible!

John taking a break to eat a bratwurst, loading up on ketchup and mustard from a contraption that I am pretty sure was inspired by a cow's udder.

Subway? Check. Pizza Hut? Check. Starbucks? Yes, I am one lucky gal. ;)

Shopping street. Bliss.

And then, I spotted it. Anyone recognize this signage? Here is it a T.K. Maxx instead of a TJ Maxx! Many of their products were from the U.K. I was incredibly tempted to buy a yummy smelling "Copenhagen Candle Company" treat, but I forced myself to walk away. Yes, I was proud of my self-control. Those of you who know me well, know how much I love my candles!

The ride home, all worn out from a day of shopping and walking.

Stay tuned for our finds! I came home a very happy girl. :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Washing Machine Woes.

What are you supposed to do when your neighbor comes up and tries to communicate in German, that your washing machine "sounds like a helicopter and is rattling all his dishes?" (Well, that is what we got out of the conversation, after many hand gestures and different noises.)

First, you try leveling it out with those little round things on the bottom. When that doesn't work? You resort to this:

I laugh every time I see this picture. Maybe I am the only one who finds it hilarious. But, my six foot, nine inch husband suddenly looks like a little boy sitting in the corner because he got in trouble. Say it with me now.... "Oh the joys of international living." And yes, the following day was my turn to sit on the washing machine... which resulted in a nice body shaking and a slight headache.

Must. fix. washing machine. soon.

And then there was this....

Apparently I put way too much soap in with my towels. One of these days I will become a domestic diva, apparently today just isn't the day!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What's inside?

The other day John came home from practice bearing gifts. Rather, necessities for our apartment provided by his team. He was also carrying this briefcase:

I immediately asked why he was carrying a briefcase. After all, most "ballers" don't carry such things. Backpack or gym bag? Yes. Briefcase? Not so much.

He explained that he didn't know what it was, just that someone from the team management gave it to him. As he handed it off to me, I realized it was rather heavy. Much to my surprise, this is what I found inside: (scroll down.....)

A knife set! There is another layer under this as well that we discovered after I prematurely took the photos. Should I be this excited about a knife set that I am only technically "borrowing" for the next six months? Probably not. I'm just not used to such luxuries, considering I usually make do with a couple of knives from Ikea. That and I've been using a butter knife to cut up veggies for the past week.