Streak-free shower doors

We recently got a new shower door because our old sliding glass door finally went kaputt after 5 years of living in this apartment.

The newer model is one that, thankfully, opens and closes much more easily, and I think will be a lot longer-lasting than the other one was.

Now that we have a nice, beautiful glass door again, I want to keep it that way. By the time I realized that the old one was getting dirty and stained with hard water stains, it was already too late.

Does anyone have any tried and true tricks to keeping glass shower doors clean? We do have a squeegee to wipe the water off of the doors after every shower. Other tricks I’ve heard involve a vinegar-dishwashing soap mixture, or using a magic eraser. Anyone have any experience with either of those? I’d love to hear any tips you might have in the comments!

The only streaking we need in the bathroom is for the quick dash down the hallway when we’ve forgotten to bring a change of clothes! (wink wink!)

Americans and flavored coffee

A student walked up to me yesterday and asked, “Are you a typical American girl?”

Not knowing where she was going with her question, I didn’t want to answer too quickly. I said, “Probably, yes, but it also depends on what subject you’re talking about!” I thought she might ask me if my Christmas tree is still up, or about my political views on recent events relating gun issues. Nope. I was pleasantly surprised at her next question. “Do you like flavored coffee?”

I had to laugh because Tobias had recently organized our roll-out pantry and found a Ziploc bag full of flavored coffee samples that had been in my stocking last year at Christmas. On several occasions (before I found flavored coffee available here in Hamburg), I had asked family and friends visiting to bring me over a package of hazelnut coffee, and last summer, Dad surprised me with several little bags of some delicious varieties of flavored coffee from the supermarket near his work.

Yes, I love flavored coffee!

I guess that does make me a typical American, doesn’t it?

She said that she’d had some family visiting during the holidays who currently live in the States, and they brought her some White Chocolate Macadamia Nut coffee that she’s not a fan of. So she will bring it for me next week.

I’ve been using up those little stocking stuffer packets of coffee. I try to limit myself to one cup o’ joe, just in the mornings, for the good of the little one growing inside me. So I’ve especially enjoyed savoring these special new flavors. This morning I topped my coffee with whipped cream and sprinkled it with cinnamon, just like I used to do back in my college days. That sure brought me back!

Do you like flavored coffee? Is it really such an American thing? 

Theo keeps seeing this mug, by the way, and saying, “Santa!” He also thinks the garden gnome we have on our balcony is Santa, too. Hah! Close, but not quite.

Resolute

resolute, adjective. admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering

Way back in 2012 while I was away on vacation, I scheduled my first (and thus far only) guest post. My best friend, Peter, wrote this post in February, asking how your New Year’s Resolutions were going.

The Christmas tree is still up in our living room. There are also still a lot of decorations in the city. This afternoon, as we walked down Mönckebergstraße, the main shopping street in Hamburg, I mentioned to Tobias how strange it felt. Everything still looks like Christmas; apart from the very obvious absence of the Christmas market in front of the town hall, all of the other markets and lights and decorations were still in full use. But everything felt very different. There’s an almost tangible excitement in the air during the days before Christmas. You know? But that was gone now. Sure, the streets were still crowded with people, and stores were plenty full, SALE signs in every window. But it is now without the same excitement.

The Germans have a lovely word for that feeling before something special: Vorfreude. It’s a word we don’t really have in English…it means pleasant anticipation. Looking forward to something. Maybe I’m weird, but I doubt I’m alone in feeling that Vorfreude is often more exciting than the actual event. Don’t get me wrong; I sure did enjoy Christmas. But that feeling of counting down? Preparing? Even better.

Now we are counting down to 2016. Fireworks are for sale here in almost every shop. Bottles of Prosecco have been moved to the forefront of every grocery store. Symbols of luck — pigs, pennies, ladybugs, and chimney sweeps — have popped up on greeting cards, bouquets, and baked goods.

So even though it still looks like Christmas at my house, I am starting to think about 2016. I don’t usually make any New Year’s resolutions. A few years ago, I tried to get into the habit of flossing my teeth daily. That lasted surprisingly long — at least until March or April. But still, as Peter mentioned in that guest post, 80% of people fail in the first days or weeks of a new resolution.

That being said, I have a few things I know I want to do anyway, so I’m going to make that my resolution this year. Simple things. Doable things.

  1. Hang some twinkle lights. Once the Christmas tree is gone, it always feels gloomy without that extra light. So I will get a strand of lights and hang it somewhere in the living room. And maybe get another one for our bedroom.
  2. Light candles. For the same reason as the twinkle lights. Plus, candlelight always feels more special. I also got some scented candles for Christmas that I want to use.
  3. Crochet a baby blanket. I’ve already started it, and I will definitely finish it before baby’s arrival in June.

That’s all. I’m keeping it simple for 2016 and feeling resolute in my “resolutions”.

How about you? Any simple ‘resolutions’ this year? Or things you’re planning on doing anyway?

Christmas 2015

The big deal here in Germany is Christmas Eve. We tried to go to the 3:00 church service, but our church is just too popular. It was too full, and we were just a minute or two too late — they had to close the doors and not let any more people in. It was a bit frustrating. The next service wasn’t until 4:30, and we didn’t want to wait that long with Theo outside until then, so we walked home.

On the way home, we stopped by a playground where there are chickens and visited the chickens for a bit. Theo was excited to see them, and even though we hadn’t been there in about a month and a half, he knew they were there — he said, “Bock bock bock!” as soon as he saw the entrance to the playground. There was a slight setback when Theo got too excited about putting lettuce through the fence and å chicken got too excited about that and pecked his finger. Theo cried big tears. Poor buddy.

We came back home and made an early dinner — sausage with potatoes and Grünkohl — and had a nice candlelit dinner together. Then it was time to open presents! Theo opened his first present from his Aunt Selina and played with it for the next half hour, not even realizing there were other presents there. :) Young kids are so satisfied with simple things.

The big present from us was a Bobby Car – which he opened last. He was so excited about it!

On Christmas morning, we had our traditional Christmas breakfast of bacon, orange juice and cinnamon orange rolls.

Then it was time for presents, round two – from the five boxes of presents my mom sent us. They definitely spoiled us!

We had a lovely morning of opening gifts, and then Theo took a nap. So did we!

In the afternoon, we went to Matthias & Ariane’s for a lovely late lunch of duck, dumplings, and Brussels sprouts. Oh my gosh, it was delicious! In the evening, we went to church for Christmas carols, which was nice since we had missed it the day before.

Tobias and I were so full after eating all day that we didn’t even think about feeding Theo dinner. By the time we got back home at 7 and had skyped with my family until 8, he seemed really tired (and so were we!) and we put him to bed. Except Theo had a rough time of it…and just screamed and screamed. At first we thought it was just over-stimulation from the two days of opening presents and playing. But when I got him some water, he gulped it like he was dying of thirst, and then he said, “Uu-guck.” Translation: Frühstück – breakfast. He was hungry. And then we felt like the worst parents ever for putting our child to bed on CHRISTMAS with NO DINNER. !!! So we unzipped him from his sleep sack, brought him to the table, and let him have something to eat. Afterwards, he went to bed just fine. Parenting fail right there…

Other than that little hiccup, which Theo hopefully won’t remember (that is, until he is older and reads this blog…), we had a really lovely Christmas. Soon we have to hop on a train to Bielefeld to visit the in-laws.

I hope everyone had a wonderful, joyous Christmas filled with lots of love, food, and family. Merry Christmas!