Monday, March 31, 2014

Lab dancers

It's funny how one can see something all the time and not really see it. I was walking past one of the table dance places in Kaiserslautern (which is in the middle of a business and residential area and is not unusual here).

Their sign finally registered with me and I started giggling.

Lab dancers? I am envisioning scientists, taking a break from doing experiments, and dancing around in their lab coats. Just for the record: what I'm envisioning is PG rated and looks like a GAP commercial and not an adults-only type of thing.

The other thing I envision is a bunch of Labrador Retrievers dancing around. That's also PG rated.

March's Kaiserslautern in Bloom

During the weekend of March 15 & 16, a business association in Kaiserslautern coordinated "Lautern blüht auf," which means something along the lines of "Kaiserslautern is blooming" or "in bloom." I had gone the year before and wrote about it here. I didn't realize that the event is more than just Sunday shopping.

Primroses were available throughout town but this festival is more about the city waking up after winter. Stores were open on Sunday for the special open Sunday shopping and downtown was packed with shoppers in a celebratory mood. Marching bands provided some musical entertainment. Here's a group dressed like...Renaissance pirates, perhaps?

There was also a car show parking along the main shopping street. Strangely enough, it seemed that most were American muscle cars. Down the road from there, a bouncy house for children was set up. I also heard that there was a petting zoo set up somewhere downtown but I didn't come across it.

This program made for a fun day out on a Sunday, when downtown is usually more deserted because stores are normally closed. It was also a fun way to celebrate the upcoming spring.

Store review: Vitamingarten, Kaiserslautern

Pfaffplatz 16

67655 Kaiserslautern

Near the Pfaffplatz, Vitamingarten is a grocery store with Turkish, German, Asian, and Baltic specialties. Many interesting and tasty delights await inside, and this store will be particularly of interest to those looking for wheat-free grains and flours.

There is a great diversity of products even though this grocery store isn't super huge (I would say that it's slightly smaller than the Rewe City). For those who are looking for alternatives to wheat flour, this store has plenty of offerings. I saw rice flour, cornflour, chickpea flour, and polenta, just to mention a few.

In addition to the different flours, there are many other dry goods including beans, spices, cornstarch, wheatstarch, and many other things. There are rows of canned and pickled vegetables. There is even peanut butter, available in both creamy and crunchy versions. It even has the American flag on it, so it has to taste good, right? Okay, I have no idea if it does or not.

Let's not forget the specialties from other countries. Here's some Turkish Delight, for example! I've tried some while I was in the US (maybe not the best place to sample it) and I don't understand why Edmund basically sold his soul for some in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but whatever.

Also on offer is a selection of fruits and vegetables with standards such as apples, carrots, onions, etc. as well as some slightly less common ones like cactus (would that count as a vegetable? I guess I don't know for sure). I've found the produce section to be a bit hit or miss; sometimes it's not the freshest.

In the back of the store there is a butcher's counter with meats and sometimes fresh fish. There are also olives and delicious cream cheese type spreads with herbs. Farther along the back wall there is a refrigerated section with dairy items and even huge vats of feta cheese. The freezer section has interesting items like lumpia, phyllo dough, Turkish savory snacks meant to be fried or baked (pide, etc.). Or, do you need 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of mayonnaise? It's available in that section, too!

There is a small selection of personal care items across from the giant buckets of mayo. Moving to the front of the store near the cash register, one can find different types of bread, including pita bread.

There is a little bit of everything here. A visit to Vitamingarten is an international adventure with many interesting things to buy and try.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Roadside Candy Machines: Kaiserslautern

On Pirmasenser Strasse at the corner of Humbold Strasse in Kaiserslautern. Feeling springy? Get the catapult frog (Katapult-Frosh).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Manneken Pis is not welcome in Kaiserslautern least this sign in downtown Kaiserslautern would make it appear so, with the little guy crossed out:

The sign actually says "Cultural heritage: no open pissoir!"

In other words, "people, quit using the alley as a bathroom!" Phew. For a minute there I thought that Kaiserslautern didn't like Manneken Pis.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Siegelbach Easter Egg Market Visit

Some friends and I took a trip to Siegelbach, just up the road from Kaiserslautern, for their Easter egg market on Saturday, 22 March at the Westpfalz-Werkstätten. For an admission fee of just one euro, we visited the small market, ate delicious cake, dyed eggs, and enjoyed ourselves.

I had attended a much bigger market in Seglientstadt the weekend before. This market, the Ostereier Market, was much smaller with 18 vendors versus the former's 60. However, it was enjoyable in a different way: it had a homey, small-town festival feel.Vendors were selling eggs with traditional patterns; eggs with hyper-modern, geometric patterns; eggs drilled with designs; blown glass art; stained glass; sewn Easter decorations; and even wooden eggs. There was a small, very earnest display of decorated eggs and egg holders.

One vendor sold personalized eggs; in a few minutes he finished an egg with the recipient's name and a design for three euros per egg.

Another booth offered the opportunity to dye boiled eggs. We each forked over a euro and were given an egg. It was a really cool way to decorate them: we picked either a cut out design on a piece of paper or a fresh herb, wrapped it around the egg in a (new) piece of pantyhose, closed it with wire, and stuck it in a pot of dye. After a few minutes, the dye was set and the egg freed from the pantyhose to show the finished, decorative product. We had a fun time interacting with the ladies working at the booth. They didn't exactly speak English and we are all beginners in German but we got our point across and laughed together. No matter what language it is in, I am totally incompetent with crafting. As I was desperately trying to wrap the egg in the pantyhose, the kind lady at the booth took the egg and showed me a better way to wrap it (I had it totally wrong).

Beautiful eggs: not made by me!
Herbs, paper cutouts, pantyhose, and wire: egg-dyeing supplies!
We had another fun experience with the glow blower. As we approached his booth, he said something welcoming to us in German. We stared at him, mystified. We all speak some level of German, but that doesn't mean that we always understand everything! Seeing our confused looks, he then asked if we were German (in German). We said no and he asked us where we were from in English. He was amused that we were all from different countries and wondered if we had met online. I found that comment pretty funny and astute, as that is often the case for expats! He was super friendly and said he wanted to make a gift for one of us. We nominated S and he made her an adorable, tiny mouse with ears the color of her country's flag. What a sweet guy he was! 

Next, we decided to enjoy some cake in the cafeteria. Two of us wanted cake with fruit on it but the pricing was a bit confusing because cake with fruit was one price and tortes were another. We weren't sure at which point the cake became a torte and neither was the lady working at the cash drawer as we bumbled through English and German trying to figure this out. The end result was that all of us, including the cashier, were giggling and we finally decided on a price. The cake was absolutely delicious and a steal at 1.50 euro, a sweet ending to our fun with the vendors.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Visit to the Kuseler Handels & Handwerksmesse

On Sunday I was in the Kusel area so I decided to stop by the Kuseler Handels & Handwerksmesse. What is such an event? Well, it's a trade show and craft show held in downtown Kusel. It reminds me of a small version of the Maimarkt held in Mannheim, which I attended last year but haven't even gotten around to writing about yet (oops!).

It was a nice little diversion. The trade fair was hosted in three tents and featured booths by local businesses and organizations. One tent was filled with happy attendees listening to music, drinking beer, and eating sausages.

In the other tents I saw heating and cooling companies, window companies, banks, and even the tourist bureau for the Pfalz (the region in which Kaiserslautern and Kusel are located). The latter was my favorite booth because of all the free flyers and maps of things to do in the region. I grabbed some information about biking, camping, and hiking in the area.

Even better yet than the flyers? There was a "Draisine" in the booth:

What is this glorious contraption? Well, apparently its German name is the same as the English term and it's similar to a handcar which is driven by human propulsion on rail tracks. This particular drisine is pedal-powered. Even better yet? These can be rented for sightseeing in the region! There are even electric powered ones and party-bus (party-drisine?) ones available for rent. Rentals start at 36 euros and more information is here.  And, despite what it sounds like, none of that was an ad or sponsored in any way. I just thought I'd share the info since it seems really cool! I might give it a try, myself; I envision some friends and lots of wine for an adventure with such a contraption.

After seeing the drisine, I wandered outside and came across people "hanging out" in harnesses on a utility vehicle. It was a local tree trimming service, allowing attendees to see what it was like to be suspended from the lift.

In the "handwerk" portion of the event, crafters sold their wares in the courtyard. There were many sewn items, including a lot of owl-related merchandise. I guess owl prints are "owl" the rage right now? Har har.

As I was walking around, I could smell what reminded me of burning hair. I was wondering what on earth it could be. As I turned the corner, I found out: a farrier demonstrating shaping horse shoes for a patiently waiting horse. I felt a bit silly that I didn't recognize the smell as I had been an avid equestrienne. However, in all fairness, I stopped shoeing my own horses more than a decade ago as I have found many benefits in doing so.

To clarify about the smell: it results from the process of hot shoeing. In hot shoeing, the farrier works the shoes over a forge, heating them up. As he works on them, he presses them to the horse's just-trimmed hoof to check the fit and make adjustments as necessary. Since the shoe is hot, it burns the hoof a little bit and the smell results. There is no worry about the hot shoe touching the outside wall of the horse's hoof; it's not painful as this area is similar to the part of a human's nail that is above the nailbed. The other type of shoeing is cold shoeing, in which the farrier doesn't heat up the shoes to fit them to the horse.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Even the frogs don't speak the same here

My friend shared a funny story of language misunderstandings with me:

She was enjoying dinner with a German friend. His English is intermediate, she doesn't speak German, and they were eating in France. She couldn't read the French menu so he offered to order for them. He asked her if she liked some sort of animal. She wasn't sure what the animal was so, trying to be helpful, he said "quack."

Ah! She thought, and said that would be good, as she liked duck meat.

Imagine her surprise when a huge platter of frog legs appeared! In Germany, frogs "quack." Good to know, huh?

Quack Restaraunt's logo is a frog and apparently that's the noise he makes.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

That is one jacked-up looking sheep

I love art and visiting art museums so it's no surprise that I made sure to visit a museum during my trip to Bruges in February. I chose the Groeningemuseum Brugge Museum as I especially wanted to see the crazy Hieronymus Bosch painting, The Last Judgment.

That wasn't the only interesting painting in the museum's collection. Flemish painter Lancelot Blondeel's Legende van de heilige Joris (Legend of St. George) caught my eye. This wasn't because of St. George's heroic deed of slaying the dragon (which looks like some sort of weird rat-dog-lion-man-bat). I was more interested in the super awkward supporting cast. I was so taken by them that I forgot to even take a picture of the main action in the painting!

 I would dub this part "Woman with Horribly Awkward Sheep."

"Derp!" says Mr. Sheep.

Man on an equally awkward (but for different reasons) horse. Um, Lancelot? Horses don't have legs like that* and unfortunately the foreshadowing didn't work for his stubby outside leg. Even the horse looks ticked off about this.

*Okay, I guess I have seen some horses with incredibly upright legs and horrible conformation, but if a real horse was put together like this painted one, he wouldn't be able to walk.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Initial Restaurant Review: Haragan Mexikanisches Restaurant

Haragan Mexikanisches Restaurant
Kaiserstrasse 168
Tel: 06372-9957433

Hours: Monday - closed
Tues - Fri 1100-1400 & 1700-2300 
Sat - Sun 1100-2300

Setting: Parking: a few spots are directly in front of the restaurant; otherwise it's street parking. There's a nice outdoor patio with a small amount of seating. The restaurant is quite small, with seating for about 50. The restroom is on the left hand side in the back (it's not super obvious as the door isn't marked but the decorations inside are, interesting).

Menu: the regular menu's appetizers run from 5-7 euros or so and meals cost in the range of 7-14 euros. The children's menu offerings are 4.50 euros and desserts are less than 4 euros.

As are many expat Americans, I'm always on the prowl for good Mexican food, especially near where I live. There were some rumblings online that a new Mexican restaurant would be coming to Bruchmühlbach-Miesau, which is west of Ramstein and Kaiserslautern, just off the A6. Those rumblings grew until word came out that the restaurant was opening today.

Of course I had to visit! I stopped by the restaurant, which seems to be in the lower part of what had been (or still is?) a house. One walks up a few steps and enters a sunroom with tables. Behind that is the main dining room and bar. The restaurant is small and painted a cozy, dark red; it probably seats about 50 people at maximum.

As I was seated, a pleasant waitress came up and handed me a menu, asking if I spoke English or German. I just went with English. She informed me that for this weekend during the opening, they only had a buffet option for 15 euros but starting on Tuesday they would be serving their normal, plated menu. I liked that idea; after all, it's a great way to sample a restaurant's options in a buffet without committing to one dish. She also offered a free glass of champagne or a Corona beer, part of their opening celebration.

I sampled a small amount of everything from the buffet. Meat eaters, I totally took one for the team so give me a virtual high-five because I even sampled a little bit of chicken and beef (I usually don't eat meat, especially those two).

  • Chips: these were the type without salt on them. They were crisp but not super flavorful. 
  • Salsa: made with fresh tomatoes and actually somewhat spicy on the German scale. Made with fresh ingredients, including cilantro. I'd say it's about a spice level similar to medium in commercially prepared American salsa.
  • Green sauce: good, homemade as well.
  • Beef with vegetables (mostly peppers): this might be what's put in fajitas normally. The sauce it was in was too sweet and reminded me of something similar to Chinese food.
  • Rice: had peas, carrots, and (oh no!) corn in it. It was also too sweet and reminded me more of Chinese food. 
  • Refried beans: not super flavorful, but were possibly homemade. 
  • Tamale: not great either. Way too much masa harina in it and formed a thick tamale with too much "dough." Chicken inside; a little heavy on the salt.
  • Pozole soup: the hominy in it seemed a bit chewy and unfortunately, the soup stock seemed a bit greasier and blander than what I've had in the US. 

There is a bar that offers cocktails, a small variety of beers, and alcohol-free drinks too.

As I was eating, I was reminded a bit of US restaurants, but not for a positive thing. The music was blasting quite loud and the diners were even louder as a consequence.

Service: the staff at the bar were wearing t-shirts printed to look like tuxedos. I found this amusing. My waitress was friendly and willing to answer questions. I was impressed that, when I was leaving, she thanked me for my visit and said she hoped I would visit again.

I left the restaurant, happy with the friendly service, but nonplussed by the food, unfortunately. I'm going to visit again once things have calmed down and it's not the opening weekend and will make an update on that experience. I'd say that if one is curious, one should check the place out, but don't expect knock-out Mexican food.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Review: The Urban Hermit by Sam MacDonald

MacDonald, Sam. The urban hermit : a memoir. St. Martin's Press, 2008.

I originally read Sam MacDonald's The Urban Hermit when it came out in 2008.  Recently, I decided to read it again. It is a memoir of how MacDonald found himself extremely overweight and deep in debt after living the high life with food, drugs, and alcohol. Even his Ivy League education and string of random jobs couldn't help him. What finally did was a strange journey of cutting expenses and food to the point of eating 800 calories a day worth of lentils and tuna fish. He picked up additional jobs, including manual labor with a shipping company and more writing gigs. That journey led MacDonald to writing assignments in Bosnia to cover American troops and then into the midst of a hippie campout.

MacDonald takes full responsibility for his shortcomings and gives a candid exploration of his journey. He's that huge Everyman that those at the kegger party pat on the back but don't want to be. In the end, though, will austerity measures and lentils save him?


As I was re-reading the book, a few references to Kaiserslautern and Ramstein registered with me. They make sense, as MacDonald traveled with the US military to Bosnia to write about the troops there. He stayed at Ramstein Air Base and even visited Kaiserslautern to have a meal. The city didn't particularly stand out to him but the references did to me!

I laughed a bit when I read about the retirees on the Space-Available flights (if there's space on military flights, including cargo planes, various military-affiliated people can hop flights for free or cheap under certain situations). I can totally envision the elderly couples: the husband, all puffed up and excitedly bragging about the countries he's visited while his wife, dressed in floral print and a fanny pack, listens.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Seligentstadt Easter Market: Visiting with the Vendors

Last Saturday my friend and I took a short day trip to Seligenstadt to see the Easter Egg Market at the museum in the monastery. More information about the market is available here.

As we toured the tables of decorated eggs, some of the vendors told us about the eggs. One vendor represented a china factory. She was selling china spoon rests and cups and saucers too. It was fascinating to talk to her because she showed us some of the Biedermeier patterns (white background with pretty pink flowers) that they had painted on the eggs. The Biedermeier period followed the Napoleonic Wars (early 1800s to about the mid-1800s or so) and was a time when Germans really started decorating their homes with knick knacks and the such. I had learned about this period in class last summer but hadn't really looked at many pictures of the art items.

Anyway, the vendor invited us to pick up the eggs to look at them. I demurred, telling her that I was clumsy and didn't want to break anything. She almost gave me a heart attack when she picked up some eggs and tapped them together to show how sturdy the bigger eggs are, such as the duck eggs. I still politely declined because with my luck, I'd break something!

We chatted with an adorable couple who were dressed in historical clothes. Earlier I saw them talking to children at their booth, smiling and handing out candy. How cute are they?

Roswitha is the wife and the artist. She originally started painting the eggs as gifts for friends and family and then started selling them. They have a flock of poultry to supply the eggs. Roswitha has her very own style that sets her eggs apart: she likes to include a poem or a quote on the back of the egg.

What drew me to her eggs (besides the beautiful patterns) is that the lettering is done in the old German script. I asked her if she had learned it in school. She had, but said that it was only for one term and no one uses it any more because it's too hard to read. I laughed because I thought the same thing but attributed that to not being German. It makes me feel better that Germans have a hard time with it too! However, she did want to have a more traditional look to the eggs so she dug out old letters from her grandfather that had been written in the same script and studied them.

The eggs were absolutely beautiful. My friend picked up one and Roswitha read the quote. "No good," she said. The quote was about pride and it being a downfall. It's kind of strange to thing of a beautiful egg with a somewhat antisocial quote. My friend easily found another egg with a nicer quote and bought it. Roswitha had planned ahead; as she was wrapping the egg, her husband logged the sale in his laptop and included a slip of paper with the quote written out. That's a great idea as the handwriting is very small on the egg.

My friend collected her boxed up egg and we said a cheery goodbye to the couple. We really enjoyed our visit to the Easter egg market and with the vendors, learning more about the artists.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Shopping at the German Grocery Store

I stopped by Globus and ended up buying groceries. I thought I'd share what the trip to a German grocery store looks like for me.

 Globus is a chain mega grocery/everything else store. It's similar to a Super Walmart but somehow less creepy (maybe because it's German and there's a 19th [?] century likeness of the founder on the wall?). One can buy pillows, automotive supplies, health and beauty items, groceries, and a ton more.

I have been a thrifty person but one way that I am totally un-thrifty is that I never have set plans for what I'll buy for groceries and I don't plan meals. I wander around and pick out what looks good. I do have certain staples that I keep on hand so I can make things from scratch but for the rest of the groceries are chosen on the fly.

Below is about 20 euros' worth of groceries. It's somewhat representative of what I buy on a normal basis, even though I usually just pick what looks good at the time.

  • 6 pack of sparkling water (usually I only buy 2 at a time but felt like being crazy)
  • Head of lettuce
  • 6 Granny Smith apples
  • 3 red bell peppers (btw, these are almost always cheaper to buy on the economy vs. getting at the commissary!)
  • Large package of pasta
  • Pasta sauce (a staple I like to keep on hand, both for pasta and to use as pizza sauce)
  • 2 containers of soy yogurt
  • 1 package of snack cheese with dipping sauce (this was dinner)
  • 1 package of cheese
  • Vegetarian faux chicken schnitzel (this was an impulse buy and not something I'd get regularly)

This is the vegetarian faux schnitzel that I bought. I've never had real schnitzel before because I tend to avoid meat. The vegetarian version by Garden Gourmet was about 2,29 euros for 180 grams. I microwaved it. I thought it was decent enough for fake chicken schnitzel (not that I have eaten the real thing to make a comparison), but wouldn't go out of my way to buy it again. The patty doesn't have the juiciness that even other vegetarian meat substitutes have.

I've bought this tasty little snack a few times, a cheese container with a mustard-based dipping sauce (with grape flavoring - tasty and not Kool-Aid like), made by Grünländer. There's even a toothpick so one can eat from the package on the go!

And, to counter the real dairy products, I bought a soy substitute, Alpro soy yogurt. This particular container is strawberry with rhubarb. I have also had the blueberry and cherry versions from this company. They are all delicious!

So, there is a shopping trip that is somewhat representative for me at the German grocery store.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Restaurant Review: Döneria, Seligenstadt, Germany

Aschaffenburger Strasse 14, Seligentstadt
M-Sat. 11:00 am - 10:30 pm; Sun. 12 pm - 10 pm

During our trip to Seligenstadt, we decided to pop into the döner shop for a quick meal. Döneria is a five minute walk from the monastery and basilica, near the city's downtown square.

We ordered at the counter with the friendly staff. They had us sit down and about five minutes later brought our food to our table. S, my friend, ordered a döner served in grilled flatbread.

I ordered the "kleiner Vorspiesenteller," which is the "small appetizer plate." When I received my plate, I did a double-take: it didn't look like a small plate at all!

It included: a small scoop of couscous (not a whole lot of flavor, unfortunately); two delicious rice-stuffed grapeleaves (these were perfect, with a lovely taste of fresh lemon juice); a small scoop of pasta salad (covered in a flavorful tomato type sauce but served cool); a small salad; some grilled zucchini, eggplant, and peppers (tasty); a small salad with a light dressing; two teigröllchen (puff pastry filled with sheep's cheese -- delicious and greasy); two zucchini savory pancakes (delicious and greasy too); a cold cannelloni bean salad in a tomato sauce; some yogurt-based sauce (similar to salad dressing); and two fried, breaded pieces of sheep's cheese (tasty but I wish I had eaten these right away as I think they would be better when hot). To top this all off, I was also given a basket of grilled strips of flatbread.

I was quite surprised at how much food there was. It was good and a great deal for 6 euros. This plate would be enough for two people.

My friend enjoyed her döner, too. This small shop with seating for about 15 people has decent enough prices and is a typical döner restaurant. There are plenty of vegetarian offerings, though they tend to be fried. For a quick lunch or a late night snack, Döneria gets the job done with friendly staff.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Seen in Seligenstadt, Germany

On Saturday my friend S and I traveled to Seligenstadt, a handsome town with half-timbered buildings and cobblestone streets*.  We came for the Europäischer Ostereiermarkt, or the International Easter Egg Market in the museum in the Benedictine Abbey. In addition to visiting the market, we also strolled throughout town to take in the sights and to enjoy the beautiful, sunny and warm weather.

First we happened upon this old motorcycle with its passenger's car.

Then we passed by this bar and saw the dog in the window enjoying the weather too. Oh, Germany, you are so wonderful that dogs get to visit the bar too!

Elderly ladies and their walkers were out in force. Not only was the dog in the window enjoying the bar, but some grannies were too, as evidenced by their parked walkers on the left.

Some other grannies were even more active! Several pushed their bikes past us. It was amazing, because the bikes were almost as tall as they were. I was wondering how they are able to hop onto the seats, which were adjusted to be quite tall.

Here's a spiffy guy who decorates the side of a building. I thought his pasties (and not the kind that Yoopers eat!) were quite festive but my friend burst my bubble when she asked if his "intestines" were falling out. My hopes are that the intestines (?) are just decorative flowers in a Baroque show of exuberance. One can hope, right?

When we visited the Landschaftsmuseum later to see the Easter Egg Market, I also caught some unusual pieces in the museum's collection: Lil' Baby Wrapped Up Slightly Creepy Jesus, anyone?

If that's not your style, how about Potential Older Lil' Baby (okay, Toddler) Jesus in a jar?

Or, even creepier yet, how about a memorial wall plaque (possibly) made of the hair from the deceased being memorialized?

*aka streets that make Ms. Around the Wherever silently worry very much about her ankles, which are prone to strains.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Seligenstadt Easter Egg Market, March 8/9 & 15/16

International Easter Egg Market of Seligenstadt

March 8/9 and March 15/16 (12-5:30 pm on Saturday, 10 am - 5:30 pm Sunday), 2014
Parking is available adjacent to the Kloster at Aschaffenburger Str. 48 for 1 euro per day
Address: Klosterhof 2‎ 63500 Seligenstadt

Benedictine Abbey (white building) and Basilica on the right, Seligenstadt
 On March 8 and 9, as well as the following weekend on March 15 and 16, a lovely Easter Egg Market is bringing some egg-celent decorative pieces to the Benediktinerabtei (the Benedictine Abbey/Monastery) in Seligenstadt.

The market is held inside the Landschaftsmuseum, in the heart of the monastery. Visitors may enter to see both the museum and the decorated Easter eggs; adults pay an admission fee of three euros and children 14 and younger receive free admission.

Almost sixty vendors set up tables throughout the museum, displaying their artwork among the museum's displays. Different vendors will exhibit their goods the following weekend so the event promises a diverse and gorgeous showing of decorated eggs, just in time for Easter display.

During the first weekend of the event, a wide variety of eggs were available, including everything from traditionally painted chicken, goose, and even ostrich eggs to wooden eggs, polished to perfection. Eggs were decorated in many different ways; most were painted but some were were decoratively wrapped in wire or covered in faux jewels. Others had patterns cut into them with tools such as a dentist's drill, creating delicate-looking, lacy decorations.

Prices vary, depending on the size, quality, and detail of the egg. Starting from 5 euros for a small egg without extensive decoration, prices could go up to several hundreds of euros for extremely detailed eggs. Most eggs are between 15-60 euros and cash is the currency of choice so be sure to stop at the ATM first! Other gifts are available too, including arrangements of artificial flowers, spring-themed greeting cards and wooden cutouts.

It's worth a trip to Seligenstadt to admire the artistry and beauty of the eggs. A warning must be issued though: it's difficult to leave without buying several of the marvelous eggs!

Some lovely eggs from the Market
This entry is not a commercial; I just had a fun time at the market today and thought I'd write about it :)

Reporting on the Kaiserslautern Pfennigbasar

I took a long lunch yesterday and stopped by the Basar, arriving about 15 minutes after it had started. It was packed with people and of course folks bumped into me. One of the ladies working there (gently) grabbed me by my hips to move me over. Oy vey. It was done in a friendly manner, but "excuse me" works well with me too, I promise!

Anyway, I picked up a pair of Girbaud jeans for 1 euro (remember how dang cool those were in the 90s?), a glass water pitcher for 2 euros, and a bike reflector for 50 cents.

Weaving among everyone, I took in the cornucopia of items: tons of clothes, shoes, sporting goods, books, records, decorations, housewares, and even antiques! (It's debatable if they're valuable, but hey, one never knows!). Seriously, this is the place to go, especially for people looking for items for their homes (college kids especially). The only thing not available is furniture, but that makes sense since there is not enough room.

If the shopping has incited hunger, there are beverages, desserts, bread rolls, and even sausages for sale at reasonable prices.

The event hall where it's held is huge and it's packed with second hand delights. I highly recommend a visit! It's open until this Sunday (9 March). Here's more info. Just to be clear: I don't get anything out of sharing this information, other than the satisfaction of recommending some thrifty awesomeness.

Knick knacks galore!
The sale is in the Gartenschau event hall on the left.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Kaiserslautern Pfennigbasar starts tomorrow!

Kaiserslautern area people: don't forget that the Pfennig Bazaar starts tomorrow, Friday, 7 March. It's a great place to find some excellent rummage sale deals.

Here's more information about it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A bit like Cookie Crisp?

I also saw this candy shop in Bruges:

It made me think of one of the taglines for Cookie Crisp cereal (or, more accurately, cookies in the name of cereal!): "Coooookie Crisp!" howled by Chip the Dog. Here's a video if you have no idea what I'm talking about and didn't spent Saturday mornings in the early 90s having this drilled in your head.

I'm not sure how the "Flemish" version would be pronounced.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Employee parking in Bruges

When I visiting Bruges this past weekend, I stopped by In & Uit Bruges to check out an art installation by Lieven De Boeck. In the courtyard, I found the area for employee parking:

This is awesome for so many reasons! I love that employees bike to work, that there is special bike parking for them, and that there is even a bas relief to decorate.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Nice enthusiasm

I really get a kick out the German instructor I've had now for two semesters. She really loves languages and shares that with us.

Sometimes her enthusiasm is quite hilarious. She had us get into groups to practice saying things and one question asked what was one's favorite food. As she circulated and our group worked on that question, she jumped in, practically waving her arm around, saying oh oh oh! I want to say my favorite food! (in German). I laughed really hard because it makes me think of the smart kid in class who practically topples out of her seat with excitement as she waves her arm to be selected.

Of course we had to let her get that out of her system. I think that's part of the reason I like class so much.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hostess of the Year Award

Last weekend, some friends came over for an event we were attending together. It was wonderful to have them over but I was a bit frazzled; I won't lie. I had planned the event for 20 people and had helped coordinate another event later that evening (though my role was minimal on the latter). That week German class and work had been busy all while I was getting over being sick for a month.

After the first event, I sent my two friends on their way to my house along with my house keys to let themselves in while I dropped off the other friends I had given a ride. When I showed up, I wanted to offer a snack and a drink to the friends who had been waiting.

Keep in mind: I am no Martha Stewart (which is totally okay with me, since I find her a little bit scary even though she's talented). I also live like a total bachelor (female version though). My fridge contained vegan margarine, an onion, and tahini. I couldn't exactly MacGyver an appetizer out of that. I hadn't been grocery shopping because of being sick and too busy afterward. I turned to my cupboard, which at least had a few other options.

I had it! I offered my guests a choice of Stovetop stuffing or some cheddar biscuits from a mix, since those were pretty much the only convenience foods I had in the cupboard. My friends happily picked the Stovetop stuffing and drank fruit tea with it.

I happily file this entry under Domesticity Fail, even though everyone enjoyed the stuffing.