Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Look at Our Thanksgiving Bash 2011

Our neons-and-neutrals Thanksgiving evening was absolutely perfect. I say this every year but really, it gets more and more fun each time.

Even with 25 people squeezing into our living room and ten dishes needing to be warmed up simultaneously in our small oven; even though half of my wall decoartions fell off before the guests arrived; even though my bike and the turkeys had a giant wipeout while I was schlepping all 15 kilos of them home on my own (thanks a lot for not helping me out, people who walked by and did nothing!); and even though we had a near disaster a couple hours before the party when one of our office shelves busted out of the wall and crashed onto the cabinet below, flinging my craft supplies and all sorts of papers across the room (amazingly, no one was hurt and nothing was broken!); despite all of that, the evening was exactly what it should be: full of happy, chatty friends, delicious food, and ridiculously entertaining conversation.

 The save-the-dates (necessary in Germany, since it's not a terribly well-known holiday) and invitiations I sent out via Paperless Post. A vegan supermarket opened up near us recently and prompted me to explain tofurkey to Micha. He then spent all of November scaring his meat-loving friends into thinking that's what we'd be serving this year.

 The 7- and 8-kilo birds, precariously positioned on my bike. Not a recommended turkey transporation method.

I use this brine recipe from Craftzine every year and it always produces the juiciest, most delicious turkey. Along with extremely salty gravy, be warned. 

Mmmmm, I've finally mastered my Gramma's broccoli casserole with Bisquick crust recipe and always make an extra one for leftovers.

Cheers to the preggos (two out of three are in this picture) and our one adorable wee guest, Mia!

Yes, my batty Halloween decorations are indeed still up. I'm beginning to grow really attached to them.

Turkey quiz time!

I must say, it's a good thing Thanksgiving is followed directly by the Christmas season, or I'd be really depressed right now that my favorite holiday is already over. See you next year, Thanksgiving. Stay awesome.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Christmas-ing!

My favorite phrase in German this time of year is "Es weihnachtet," which literally means "it's Christmas-ing." I'm a big fan of turning this holiday into a verb to describe the festive, jolly vibe that settles upon German cities in wintertime.

Since the Christmas markets in Berlin already opened last Monday, I've been meandering through them every day since then during my lunch break and on my way home from work. I do, however, make a point of not having my first Christmas market gl├╝hwein until after Thanksgiving. My own little inner can't-let-go-of-fall-quite-yet protest.

This year, to kick off the holiday fun, I've made a lofty December goal for myself to visit a Christmas market every single day until the 24th. It gives me a nice headstart before all the Advent calendar joy sets in (oh, do I have lots of Advent calendar surprises in store here!).

Well, I hope your Thanksgiving weekend was as fabulous as mine was! I'll be back tomorrow with a recap. Our neons-and-neutrals party was a blast and as an added bonus, we now know that 25 people can fit (mostly) comfortably in our little apartment, as can enough food to accomodate them. Oh the possibilities...

(Ok and last thing: I passed my German driving test today! It's been a long, long process as the German driving office seems to have something against Californians, but I finally get to drive in this country! I didn't think I'd be this excited but I totally am.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Holiday Weekend!

After a lovely oceanside Thanksgiving lunch yesterday (followed by a lovely homemade turkey dinner much later--it's okay to have two Thanksgiving meals in a day, right?), I biked down to the beach to appreciate my new surroundings. And, let's face it, to enjoy the 80 degree weather and the fact that I'm wearing summer dresses and not a coat and scarf anymore. I snapped a couple pictures of the beach before the clouds got too imposing and chased me back home for a video date with my semi-tipsy family back home in California. All in all, a lovely (evidently that's my word of the day) holiday. I hope yours was as well!

Happy weekend all!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


(Warning: this is a rather long, personal, and superlative-filled post. :)

Just as we used to do on our college swim team in the bus ride back home after a swim meet, I'd like to give some shoutouts today to some extra special people and things that I'm particulary thankful for on this, my most favorite holiday.

First and foremost, my hilarious and fabulous family, who I don't get to see nearly as much as I'd like to, but who's always there when I need them.

And those family members who are no longer with us: John, who taught us to play poker at the age of eight, was our favorite companion at Dodgers games, and never ever let us win a game of Sorry unless we truly earned it. I miss him and his childlike excitement for the holidays most of all this time of year.

 (Don't look to happy there, Natalie!)

And Tess, simply the best dog ever. Not that she ever knew she wasn't actually a person like the rest of us...

The absolute awesomest friends a girl could ever ask for and all the crazy fun experiences we've had together.

Having a long-time American friend in Germany who always knows exactly what I mean when I say, "Man it drives me crazy how Germans always..."

 The bestest boyfriend ever...

 ...and all the adventures we've had and have yet to have.

And finally, but oh-so-certainly not least, the coolest twinsie there is. May our adventures together continue until we're old and gray.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Look at Thanksgivings Past: 2009

The best part about our Thanksgiving party 2009 was that I finally didn't freaking get sick on the day of. That mainly had to do with the fact that this time around (after having already done two Thanksgivings in Germany the years before and getting sick promptly at dinnertime each year), I was wise enough to make it potluck and not attempt to make all the dishes myself. Stress avoided and sickness too. Another added bonus was that all my German friends got to full-on participate in the holiday and learn new (for them) American recipes. (And they each try new ones out each year since.) Thus our gigantic, 20+ person German-American Thanksgiving Potluck Party tradition was born.

Emily started co-hosting with me that year and she and Artur (of baby shower fame) make the trip from Munich to Berlin each year for Turkey Day! (It really is so great having another American there.) For 2009, we set the mood with our colorful evites and let everyone sign up for an item from the potluck list, recipes provided.

The big bird! We actually had two, because we weren't sure if one 8-kilo guy would be enough for 23 people. The second one was 7 kilos and honestly, we barely even had leftovers! (Oh, you just wait for the bird story of 2010.)

Somehow over the years I have become the turkey-gutting expert. Oh joy.

This year, as opposed to the year before, I also really really really wanted everyone to sit and one giant long table. (The year before we were just strewn all over the apartment wherever space was available.) I think that cozy feeling of people passing dishes back and forth across a long, packed table is a necessary part of the Thanksgiving vibe.

Thankfully, another good friend, Kerstin, came through for us (and does every year) with an extra table, plenty of chairs, and even plates and silverware. Thank goodness for her... Apartment living (read: storage space) is not exactly conducive to throwing giant dinner parties, but you do what you can once a year.

The appetizer table, with Emily's amazing deviled eggs, was set up in the office/guest room and fancied up with some glitter pumpkins. I loved those little glitter pumpkins. I think we found glitter on the floor for months after having made those guys... Micha hated it. But they were so worth it.

The youngest addition to our holiday fun, little Mia. She was so tiny back then!

Another staple for the party is our much-needed vacant/occupied sign for the bathroom, which has no lock. And what better to mark it with than the East German Ampelmann?

Since we had to use the kitchen table in the living room, we oh-so-classily piled all the dishes people brought with...on the kitchen floor. Pretty? No. But functional indeed.

I kind of love that no matter how much effort you put in to decorating and cozying up the rest of the apartment, everyone still manages to gather in the kitchen.

I'm so excited the day has finally rolled around again to have this much fun again this year. Hooray for Thanksgiving!