Sunday, August 29, 2010

Weindorf 2010

It must seem that we go from festival to festival. We don't exactly, but I will say that there are a lot of festivals in Germany over the summertime. Within 15 minutes of our house. So of course, if there is a festival 15 minutes away, we will probably be there. These festivals I might add are very family friendly. We went to to the Weindorf in downtown Stuttgart last night.
We just caught the train down and had a lovely night.
The local wine producers (where we live is a big wine producing area) showcase their best wines at the Weindorf (wine village) every year.
They also sell food typical to our region ("Schwaebisch" food.)
It's a lot of fun to walk around, especially as it is held in the late summertime. 

Today my German teacher, Ulla and her husband, Manfred, invited us over to lunch at their house. Manfred and Ulla were born in 1938. They look so much younger than their age and they keep really fit. Ulla has a heart for American students learning German. She is a part of the Ladies Bible Study on one of the American bases here and so when I told her that I was part of a Ladies Bible Study, we really hit it off. I visit her about once a week to keep my German conversation up to speed. She makes no bones about the fact that my grammar could be a lot better, but she is the best person to learn with. They loved Zev and it was a fun afternoon with them. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures.

Well, I hope that you have a good week!
"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the LORD. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11  

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fireworks Festival

Each year there is a festival on the hill across the valley from where we live, called the "Flammenden Sterne" or the "Stars on Fire" which is a big International Fireworks Festival.
We learnt from our neighbor, Jorg, that the Festival Committee invites a different country to put on their fireworks display each year. This year, the Committee chose New Zealand, Mexico and Germany. We went on Saturday night and saw the Mexico display. You can see the color of the Mexican National Flag above.
Zev set up his camera to take some incredible shots.
The fireworks show was choreographed with some beautiful music- think a mixture of classical with some sexy Latin beats. The booms and pops of color from the fireworks were perfectly timed to coincide with the cadence of the music.
Isn't that picture above with the silhouettes cool?
Hope you have a good week!
Love, The Yorks.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Onion People

Last night, Zev and I had a great "local" night with friends. I love being able to find fun things to do right in your own backyard. Trust me, there's plenty of stuff to do in YOUR neck of the woods and plenty of stuff that might surprise you if you just visit your local information/ tourist office. I remember a few months into our tour in Montgomery, Alabama, when I was telling my colleagues at the law firm I was working at, about the Rosa Parks museum and the church where Martin Luther King preached. We even visited the town where Harper Lee was born and raised (and where "To Kill a Mockingbird" was filmed) and also discovered many cool local attractions in Louisiana. So last night we met up with our dear friends, Micah and PJ and their kids, as well as Bevin and Jeff and some of Micah's German friends, at a local festival happening in our town of Esslingen. Actually, it is Micah and PJ's German friends (Birgitte and family) who organized the Maultaschen cooking class we did a few months ago. So last night, we all headed down to the "Zwiebelfest" which means Onion Festival, held at our local historic marketplace. Birgitte and Micah had reserved a table with Matthias (with whom we had taken the cooking class with and who is a true larger-than-life German in every sense of the word.) I ordered the Maultaschen with the "onion melt" (caramelized onions) on top (words cannot describe how delicious this onion melt is) and of course German potato salad. Now that I have actually seen how that delicious potato salad is made, I know EXACTLY how rich it is, but it tastes so good, so I had some. Zev ordered the Rostbraten mit Zwiebel, which is a roast beef with (of course) some caramelized onions on top. And of course, German potato salad.The weather was perfect and it was a fun night out with friends, and a fun date night with my man.  
Here is an interesting little story/ legend that I found online about the onion festival:
The devil and the onion
It was on a nice day in autumn when devil visited the market of Esslingen. He stayed in front of a market stall with apples and wanted to eat one. So he asked the woman behind the stall for an apple. But the market-woman looked at the devil, and then she noticed his hoof and decided to give him an onion instead of an apple. The devil bit in the onion and became very angry when he realized that the apple was an onion. He went away cursing.

Up to this day people in Esslingen are called the “onion people” (“Zwieblinger”).

Speaking of date night, Zev came home early on Friday night and we made pizzas at home. These are probably some of our favorite "date nights." Just a simple dinner at home and then a movie.
Zev made the pizza dough from scratch and added all sorts of yummy toppings like goat cheese and basil.
I made dessert using the apples from our backyard. I am grateful for our abundance of apples. At first I was trying to send them with Zev to take to his work, but he says that everyone is "appled out." Not sure if that is a real term but there you go. So I have been freezing my apple compote, which is really quite a healthy dessert.
This week I aim to really appreciate all the people and things around me. Like the beauty of life, marriage and apple trees. I know that sounds random, but I am feeling rather grateful for our blessings today.
Hope you have a great week too!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Jam Diaries Part II

Well, the blackberries were officially made into Wild Blackberry Jam tonight! Zev was the official (creative) photographer.
Making the jam was so much fun and easy! (Granted, I made the quick "freezer" jam version. It keeps in the freezer for 1 year and in the fridge for 3 weeks. Tastes good!)
I do see now why jam tastes so good (hint: sugar).
The jam needs to set over the next 24 hours.
I am thinking this may be a neat Christmas idea. We have a mirabelle tree in our backyard (mini sweet apricots). I can already envision mirabella with some chilies as jam or other various takes. Suggestions welcome!
I am "discovering" all this awesome music this week. Not sure where I have "been" in terms of keeping up with the latest and greatest in music but I am also really loving Lady Antebellum. Must be the Southern girl in me I guess (we lived in Alabama/ Louisiana for the first 4 years of our marriage!) ;-)
Take care, y'all!

Wild Blackberry Picking

Have you ever tried freshly picked wild blackberries? They are the sweetest thing. So good.
Yesterday on my run, I noticed some wild blackberry bushes along the path behind our house. I normally run by this particular area and think to myself "I wish those people would cut their grass; everything looks so overrun and bushy." It is quite unlike the Germans to let their gardens get overgrown, so this particular area looks kind of out of place. I'm not even sure who the piece of land belongs to; there is no fence around the perimeter.
I've been wanting to make jam using the wild blackberries picked from our backyard. I had picked a good bunch, but I had also been eating one or three here and there and needed some more for my jam. So I ventured out to my "secret" blackberry bush picking area this afternoon as a little break from work. The weather was perfect; I was playing some great tunes on my iPod (check out this link to Jack Johnson. He is from Hawaii and totally rocks. I love his music. I also love his song "Upside Down.") The sun was shining and it was a perfect afternoon off to pick wild blackberries in the woods behind our house.
I came across the bush and started picking. Blackberry picking is rather a fine art, as those of you who have experience picking blackberries would know. You need to gently reach in and pluck the ripe berries, without getting pricked by those tiny thorns or shaking the bush too much and making the other berries fall. I thought of so many analogies as I was picking those berries. I had never paid much attention to that overgrown bush. It's not even pretty. But upon closer inspection, I realized that the blackberry bush was so full of beautiful, ripe, blue blackberries. I looked even closer and reached in to pluck the hard-to-reach ones and noticed that there were blackberries everywhere! This bush was enormous! Anyway, I am off to make dinner and get started on making blackberry jam (my first venture in the world of jam making). Hope you are well and enjoying the little things in life around you.
Love, Fi xo

Thursday, August 05, 2010

A Blessed Visit

I can't believe that Leslie returned home this morning! It seemed like time just flew by at the end. We had the BEST day yesterday.
The Lord truly blessed us with awesome weather and an awesome last day for Leslie in Germany. We started the day by having breakfast on the base Zev works at, with other military spouses. We then hit the road for our final road trip together, up to historic and simply stunning Rothenberg ob der Tauber. If you EVER come to Germany, make sure you visit this gorgeous little town. It is incredible. Yesterday was my first visit to this village. I loved it and plan to take our next guests there.
Rothenberg is such a fairy-tale little village. Here are some interesting facts (thanks to wikipedia in part!):
The city is a walled city, meaning that there is a medieval wall surrounding the town. Leslie and I climed this wall and walked along the top of the wall from one end to the other! How fun!
The name of the city, "Rothenberg ob der Tauber" means "Red fortress above the Tauber". This is so because the town is located on a plateau overlooking the Tauber river. As to the name "Rothenburg", some say it comes from the German words Rot (Red) and Burg (burg, medieval fortified town), referring to the red colour of the roofs of the houses which overlook the river. The name may also refer to the process of retting ("rotten" in German) flax for linen production. Leslie and I stopped in the quaintest little linen and lavender store and picked up some lavender satchels for our linen drawers.
Rothenburg has appeared in several films, notably fantasies. It was the inspiration for the village in the 1940 Walt Disney movie Pinocchio. It was also the location for the Vulgarian village scenes in the 1968 family movie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and is sometimes mistaken as the town at the end of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971); that town was Nördlingen.
Leslie and I tried some (more!) local German specialities including Pfefferlingesuppe (a wild mushroom soup; Chantelle mushrooms are currently in season :-), as well as Flammkuchen (a thin pizza like dish which had tomato, basil and mozzarella).
We also enjoyed some Schwarzwaldtorte (Black Forest Cake) and sampled the local Rothenberg speciality, "Schneeballen" (Snow Balls.) We sat in the town square in the cutest little coffee shop and listened to a group of young Americans and Germans play some traditional music (including the March of the Military!)
In addition to exploring Rothenberg, Zev took Leslie and I to Heidelberg this past weekend.
We did the castle tour and enjoyed a yummy lunch in the historic downtown.
We also met up with some local friends in downtown Stuttgart; visited our church; visited Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart; had lunch with Angela and Gena at the Ritter Sport Chocolate Factory; and had lunch in Strasbourg, France. Oh yeah, we also visited Salzburg and Munich last week! I'll have to post pictures of that trip in another blog entry!
We packed a lot into two weeks, and I miss Leslie already.
Thank you for such a wonderful visit, sweet friend! You inspire me with your Walk; with your confidence as a Christian woman and positive perspective! This was a blessed visit.