Learning German.

All things German

My head hurts. I’ve just come back from my first lesson from Goethe Institut <crosseyedfaceemoticon>.

First lesson nervousness has abated. I’m in a small class of eight who seem friendly and open and hopefully will be up for some bier drinking after a few more lessons.

We began our class by formulating personal questions with a partner. Things like, “What is your name?” “Where do you come from?” “What is your profession?” “What is your marital status?” and so on. In German. And then onto verb conjugation. Three hours spaeter, we students know a little bit about each other, know how to speak in present/past tense, and have some homework to do before we start again tomorrow. Three days a week times eight weeks later, I should be able to use speak well in German using proper grammar. Not DM grammar, which makes most nouns feminine (yes, German nouns have a male, feminine AND neutral article) with the use of DM past verb construction: Any part tense verb has a ‘ge’ put at the front and a ‘t’ thrown at the back. For example, if I want to say, “I baked a cake”, I might say, “Ich habe eine Kuchen gebacht”. Which is FALSCH, but I am pretty much understood by all.

Speaking German in this way will not do. I just don’t have a desire to speak half hearted German when I know I’ll be here for a while yet. So I’ll have to put some effort into learning and get used to a little bit of a head ache. I guess it’s a sign that my neurones are connecting again.

Hazy to you, too? It's what I see when I look at this verb conjugation table. via

Hazy to you, too? It’s what I see when I look at this verb conjugation table. via deliciousmother

And speaking English in class is verboten. Why am I not surprised? Our teacher will bring her English word jar next week and charge us 50 cents for each English word/phrase spoken. Huh.

Complaints aside, I am now proud to know how to say, “I ate currywurst and doener plate on the weekend.” and ” What does one wear to the opera?” in German. Correctly!

 

A dirty weekend.

Food & Travel

It has indeed been a dirty weekend so far. As much as I would like to say it’s been of an amorous kind, I am more than happy to say it’s been of the gustatory kind.

Cue: Best Worscht in Town.

photo 2

Just before the lunch time rush. Via deliciousmother

We were running some errands this morning, when we passed by this institution: a little kiosk on Grueneburg Weg selling currywursts of varying degrees of spiciness, accompanied by various curry flavours. They are supposedly 100% meat and free from flavourings and additives.

Curry-Geschmack

I have eight more excuses to go back. source

Hot

B was not hot enough for the Korean tongue. Next time I’ll go for the mouth orgasm. :) source

Mr B chose a mix of beef and pork currywursts of spiciness “B” with the “Old School Curry”.

photo 1

Is way more appetising than it looks. via deliciousmother

The wursts here are extremely popular. I’m told that it’s heaving with customers come lunch time, and so famous is this place for currywursts, they are often called on by event planners to cater to their upmarket clients at formal events. And now I know why! It was extremely tasty and I’m sure it will hit the spot whenever I get a strong desire for something spicy, meaty and not so healthy.

Sharing an adult’s meal package between the three of us meant that we desired a little more for our tummies. So off to Leipzig Strasse we cycled to share a doener teller. I know, I know, I went on about healthy and tasty food in my last blog post. In my defence, such was the extent of our morning cycle, I must have surely negated the wurst, plus the teller did come with salad, and potato (albeit, in the form of fries), so it’s all good!

photo 3

for five euros you can’t complain. via deliciousmother

I guess it’s something green, fresh and non-meaty for dinner.

 

Courgette Carbonara (a la Abby).

Food & Travel

When it comes to cooking, I am just plain lazy and unadventurous. I stick to my basic repertoire of recipes. I just don’t get the same buzz about trying a new savoury recipe as I do with cakes. I knew I needed to explore, as one can only have so many Thai curries, pasta and meat (with three veg).

So imagine my delight when I met a lovely lady named Abby from the German expat ladies group. Perhaps she could encourage the inner cook in me? I’m not sure I even have an inner cook in me, but there’s always hope.

Abby, an ex-Londoner, is an amazing cook and blogs about food. Her blog is full of lovely recipes, photos of mouth watering dishes as well as accounts of eateries in cities she has travelled to.

When I came across her recipe for Courgette Carbonara, I just knew I had to try it out. And I thought I’d do the blog name justice by posting a blog about a delicious dish!

 

Ingredients

DSC_0415

Granapadano, plate of salt, chilli flakes & basil, lemon juice courgettes, eggs, red onion, pasta Amazing M. It was hard to take pics with M wanting to touch everything. via delicousmother

Result

via deliciousmother

via deliciousmother

Verdict

DM – fresh, tasty and just lovely!

A super easy and healthy alternative to a carbonara that can sometimes be a bit too oily for my tastes. Will definitely make this again.

Mr B – healthy; if you made it again I’d eat it, with more cheese.

Mr B would have preferred more cheese, more salt, lots of cream and some bacon/meat. But he’s German so let’s not take his opinion on tasty and healthy food too seriously.

Amazing M-  Mmmm. Nice, mama? I don’t like it, mama.

The courgette ribbons put her off, but I did manage to get her to eat some of the pasta. Her taste buds are much like Mr B’s so unless its super cheesy and oily/creamy, she’s not very interested.

Please check out Abby’s blog here for the full recipe and other inspiring dishes.

Please comment below on any great food blogs or sources of easy, quick, healthy and tasty recipes!

Dinner time dramas.

Parenting & Musings

One of the hardest things for me to do, parenting wise, is to keep my calm when things don’t go to plan. Triple this when I’m a bit sleep deprived or feeling stressed out. Quadruple this when I don’t take the time to look after myself properly – by way of good food or lack of exercise and general me time.

And it's BIO sekt to boot. via deliciousmother

And it’s BIO sekt to boot. via deliciousmother

Let me shed light on why I have with me a glass of Sekt tonight. (Ooo! Look at me, I’m capitalising nouns in true German style!)

Backtrack. It was actually a really nice day, as a close London friend and her children visited us (thank you sooo much for the amazing orchid plant!!!). The kids played well together which gave us some time to catch up on all that had been going on since our move. That was until Amazing M’s wishes to play ball were rejected by my friend’s daughter. In true M style, out of frustration and ego bruising (she is a Leo, after all), she threw the ball into her friend’s face and refused to apologise. Great tactic, M. Wish I could do that every time someone said no to me.

And it kinda went downhill from there.

Dinner time this evening was particularly painful, especially as Mr B wasn’t present:

DM: Please sit down for dinner*, now.

Amazing M: I don’t want to. (Standing on the foot plate of her high chair).

DM: Please sit down for dinner, now.

Amazing M: Wait. Just a minute.

DM: Please sit down for dinner, now.

Amazing M: I wanna lick the Eis off the floor (drops of dried ice cream I didn’t see till she mentions it. She steps off the chair and bends down to lick it)

DM: No, that is disgusting(catching her just in time)

Amazing M: (Crying) I wanna lick the Eis!!!

DM: Sit. DOWN. NOW!

Amazing M: Stop shouting at me!

DM: (Feeling very guilty) I’m really sorry, M. Mama didn’t want to shout at you but she got frustrated when you didn’t listen to her for the third time. I’m sorry. It’s dinner time, now.

Amazing M: I don’t like to eat salad…

 

And so it went.

Oh! And another thing – went to get some passport photos and made myself up to avoid a typical passport pic. You know, ones where you just induce smirks among customs officers. But all that effort produced picture of me looking like a police officer from a North Korean political poster. Don’t get me wrong, some of the ladies are beautiful (like this one). But the result was that I ended up getting what I wanted to avoid: a LOL passport photo.

It’s a wonder I’ve still got a lot of black hair.

On a positive note, she did end up eating a lot of the salad and a good portion of her ham and cream cheese roll. And on another positive note, Amazing M said I was pretty, come bath time. Am I too easy to please?

 

* in many German households, one warm lunch and a cold dinner is eaten (or vice versa). ‘Cold’ consists of cold cuts of meat, cheese, bread and melon/radishes/fish salad etc. When Mr B is away, this suits me fine as it means less cooking! Heck, I think it suits me fine even when he is here.

 

A new life in Germany.

Food & Travel, Miscellaneous
source

Green and glorious Germany! source

So here we are in Germany. Land of bier, BMWs, bratwursts and Boris Becker.

It was a long time coming. We knew London was just a temporary home for our little family. Many tears were shed, and many a heated discussion had before coming to a decision. We had a point system for Australia vs Germany vs U.K. and ultimately Deutschland scored the highest. And here we are, starting again. New flat, new friends, new food and nearer to the in-laws! Which is a great thing, by the way. Amazing M has a wonderful relationship with them and it really is nice to be able to send her to them for a few days whenever we want. Apologies for the alliteration peppered throughout the post so far. I’m just so excited about getting excited about blogging again that I can’t help using my favourite language technique (?).

There are many expat blogs out there that will tell you about some of the strange cultural habits/practices/manners of Germans, so I’ll quickly summarise the good and not so delicious things I’ve experienced so far:

-CYCLE FRIENDLINESS I’m in bike paradise. It is safe to ride your bike here (unlike in London), and there are specified cycle roads that lie parallel to the roads. I can cycle everywhere. To the gym, to the city for drinks (maybe not such a good idea if you plan on having a few drinks), to our local Aldi (which I love almost as much as my old local Waitrose in London- that’s another blog post topic!), and anywhere else I fancy.

- Uber RUDENESS I got massively told off by a seventy something year old cashier in the food hall of a department store. Just for having a buggy! Apparently there was no space for it to go past the aisle, but the annoying thing was that she did not even offer a solution. I was dumbstruck by her rudeness so I lamely walked away to find a cash desk that my ‘mammoth’ buggy could fit past. But I must say this it is the only experience of the stereotyped rudeness of customer service in Germany. Perhaps I’m lucky or perhaps there will be more instances to follow.

- MAKING NEW FRIENDS I’ve been meeting new ladies through an expat forum. Daunting, at first. Like going on first dates again. But it’s been great. I don’t think I’ve been this socially busy since my singleton days. All I can say is that the internet has been my saviour again. Like I’ve said in one of my previous posts, you just have to put yourself out there to meet new people and form friendships. Having great group of friends makes settling in a new country so much easier.

- FURNITURE SHOPPING Forget fashion! I’ve been drooling over many items of furniture whilst shopping for a dining suite (is it just me, or does ‘dining suite’ sound so 70’s? A brown table with rounded corners, matched with chairs upholstered in old school granny bag material come to mind). Let me tell you the immense rise in endorphins I experience when entering a Boconcept store is just something else. I love Skandi anything. Well, we finally agreed on a dining table and chairs for our living/dining room. Hooray!

- MISSING MY USUAL EATERIES I’ve had to get used to not having exciting, non-German food at hand. I just can’t walk up the road for fantastic sushi or fresh Mexican whenever I want. I miss my Iocal Italian for their amazing pizzas, and miss my dim sum. And my £20 lobsters. Next time I’m in London, I swear to Life that I’ll be feasting so much I’ll be rolling back onto the aeroplane.

- LEARNING THE LANGUAGE IN CREATIVE WAYS My official lessons haven’t started but I’ve been taking some initiative by way of using trashy television shows as an excuse to watch them. Immersion is key, so I’ve been watching trashy German shows like The Bachelorette and Shopping Queen. Looking forward to the upcoming show, Adam Seeks Eve. It’s a dating show where the contestants are naked. For reals.

- MISSING FRIENDS The first couple of weeks in our flat were fun. A new flat and new city is very exciting when you can share discoveries with a husband and child you love very much. However, when the dust settled, I was in tears, missing my dear group of friends back in Blighty. I was thinking, ‘Who else is going to love me, with all my quirks and faults?’ Okay, maybe a little bit overdramatic, but when I got over that I decided that I had to put myself out there. Again. Mr B nudged me a bit, thank goodness. And it all worked out in the end, thanks to the internet and thanks to a great group of expat women, generous enough to welcome me into their homes. To all you beautiful friends back home in OZ, missing you is a daily occurrence, a given, and something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to.

- GETTING USED TO NO RETAIL ON SUNDAYS Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for having a day of rest, more family time and going back to the good old days of simple living. Really. But I just like having the option to be able to go shopping should I wish. Window shopping at a department store on a cold and wet day sounds like a good idea. I’m not one of these mums who embrace the rain and go out stomping in puddles with their rain jacketed children. No, siree. That’s what Kindergarten is for.

There you have it. A brief account of life so far in Germany. So far so good.

Chinese New Year Resolutions I think I can keep.

Parenting & Musings

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a lovely holiday season and haven’t been to harsh on yourselves for breaking your new year resolutions (sorry, a bit cynical, I know).

For the first time in a long time, I didn’t make any resolutions on December 31, 2013. No lists of things to do or who/what to become. I’m taking the pressure right off to be perfect. You know, the perfect size/weight (although I would like to get back to my pre-holiday season shape, but not a size 0), the perfect mother (shoulda seen my yesterday with M), the perfect wife (I think I lost that resolution almost five years ago, and what does the perfect wife even mean? Sex on tap and acquiescence till death?), the perfect daughter (I think stopped being one when I was no longer virginal, but probably it was when I didn’t make it into James Ruse High) or perfect sister (Amazingsister, I’m so sorry for the times I made you cry).

photo

A bit more of this and some long soaks in the bath, please! via deliciousmother

Let’s face it, all those efforts didn’t see me being anywhere near ‘perfect’, and only ended up with severe angst, tears and lovely ol’ anxiety about it. And let’s not forget the shame fuelled sugar binges.

Oh no. I’ve come to realise finally that, trying my best is enough. I am enough. I am bloody, frickin’ enough. It’s all well and easy to write and say that, but sometimes it’s really hard to believe that when challenged with a toddler who refuses to nap, and pees/poos where it’s not appropriate. On a day like yesterday a hundred “I love myself” and “It will pass” mantras would not do the trick!

So now that I’ve had a bit of time in January to think and observe myself (in thought and in action), I’m going to make a few Chinese New Year Resolutions that aim not for perfection, but for more joy.

1. Make a daily mantra: I am enough!

2. Be more mindful of waste: take carrier bags when shopping, buy bulk, use up my cosmetics/make up before adding to the mini apothecary I already have. etc.

3. Take care of me first. Do things that relax me, bring me joy, slow me down and make me feel better. Whether it’s yoga, a run, journalling, writing my novella, saying no (a challenge for a people pleaser like me), letting Amazing M watch a bit of telly while I take a half hour nap, or going out with my gorgeous girl friends (without child).

See, not a perfecting resolution in sight!

Also a loving shout out to Miss AJK. Miss you loads and your text came at a very handy time. Love you long time!

Potty training and sleep regression.

Parenting & Musings

The two go hand in hand, surely? Amazing M has been doing so well with weeing in the potty for the past week, but sleeping and pooing are being affected in ways I wasn’t prepared for. Whoever said parenthood never gets easier was right. Once you nail breastfeeding, weaning comes along. When you manage to get a good night’s sleep, they get ill. When they become as mobile as you wished for in the brain numbingly boring stage of the early months*, you realise that you need to be constantly vigilant. And when they start to finally talk, you better keep your temper and cussing in check because they become a little parrot.

Image

The Pourty is the best potty invention as it is carefully designed to minimise or eliminate spillage when emptying out! via deliciousmother.

And now, we are at the stage of poo refusal for reasons I can’t quite comprehend, coupled with constant calling out during the night for milk or water or mama. Huh. M’s gas is passing me out. Please, for the love of God and my sanity, poo and sleep!

Take a deep breath. It’s only sleep… And it will pass. It will pass. It has to pass.

*I am one of those mums who didn’t particularly like the new born and early stages. 

 

 

All I want for Christmas.

Parenting & Musings

If you took a brief look at the facts of my life, there is nothing I need more of, physically speaking. I have a gorgeous and very forgiving husband, an equally wonderful daughter who never gets sick of calling my name or favouring me to anyone else in the world (I did well with that kid, I must say), a beautiful flat that has spectacular views of the Thames, the ability to purchase most things* I want without a thought, as well as a loving family and friends to boot. Some could say I have it all, minus the career (I’m busy hiding behind the role of motherhood for now, but this job require a lot of energy). So why the recent discontent, deliciousmother?

Christmas time in London via deliciousmother

Christmas time in London via deliciousmother

 

Perhaps discontent is too strong a word. It’s hard to articulate how I am feeling, but it’s as if I’m on the brink of real contentment but somehow my mind or thoughts are pulling me back. I’m wrestling with the habit of worring about the future, or drowning in regrets and memories that bring back feelings of shame. It’s as if I’m a thinking-too-much-really-useless-shit junkie.

The recent anxiety and panic attacks have motivated me to get to the root cause, hence the therapy and sharing my experiences and thought processes with my fellow deliciousmothers in London and well, I guess now on the world wide web. Part of my therapy is to practice more self compassion, as I am my worst critic- spawning from the trait of perfectionism. And so far so ok. The self compassion muscle has atrophied and I’m rehabilitating it. But it’s not so easy at times. And the old me would have thought I am not doing enough, but the ‘new’ me is relaxed about it. I am not even chastising the voice that says, ‘Get over the past, already!’ or ‘Why are you worrying about that now?’. I mean, they are good CBT exercises, but the last thing I need right now is a critique of my critique. Instead I just sing out aloud or in my head the line from Funky Town,’Gotta move on!’ When I do sing out aloud, Amazing M looks at me disapprovingly and says, ‘No, mama. Jimoree!’ Which means: ‘No, mama. You only sing this at Gymboree!’.

So, back to the title of this post. What this deliciousmother would really love this Christmas is not more presents, but more presence. To be free from unnessary thoughts and worries, or at the very least, a better ability to move myself back to the present without losing myself in the painful stories I needlessly create. And this is something no one can buy, and only I can acquire myself.

* not everything but you get my drift

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas.

Things that give me joy.

Parenting & Musings

The thought of travelling somewhere warm…

Creating something, preferably something sweet.

Getting lost in another world via a really good book.

Sharing a good moan and a laugh with a close friend.

friends

via
Pouffy dresses optional.

Cuddling up to Mr B and Amazing M in the morning.

Fantasising about the perfect living space.

Looking at beautiful art work.

The beauty of the above things is that it doesn’t cost much at all. Some things don’t cost anything. Hope you all get to do more of the things that bring a smile on your face this holiday season!

Shift happens.

Parenting & Musings

Well, I’ve been comfortably and not so comfortably sitting with my feelings of blah these past few days. I think when you’re feeling like this, it’s not just the negative state that causes you pain. It’s the obvious absence of joy that also gives you more to feel shit about.

But this time around, I just sat with it. I didn’t try to run away from it or try to put on a happy face or EFT away myself into happiness. This weekend was family time and being kind to me time. I spent time playing with M with a concerted effort to be present in every moment of being bossed around by her and actually shared a few laughs; drank some coffee (decaffeinated, of course); read some self-help books which were a bit grating at times; chatted about nothing profound with Mr B; listened to some hypnotherapy podcasts; did a bit of Qi Gong which was supposed to relax me but did the complete opposite- but I still sat with the discomfort and completed the exercises; went to the gym; ate some delicious home cooked lasagne  al-a-Mr B (which was ridiculously good); and did some more moping about, noticing my thoughts and worries without as much condemnation as would normally be the case.

And slowly but surely, I am feeling a little shift out of blahness.