My life and my thoughts - on faith, culture, politics, whatever comes to my mind

Monday, December 31, 2007

Favorite books of 2007

I have always loved reading and even though I have a lot less time for it than I used to, I still read lots (ask my husband :)). So in 2007 I read quite a number of books and now decided to come up with a list of favorites.
I think I mainly read Christian books this year, so here are my top 3:

  1. C.J. Mahaney, Living the cross-centered life (this is an awesome book; if you haven't read it yet, you absolutely have to in 2008!)
  2. Jerry Bridges, Discipline of Grace (I almost twice through, still some pages left to read and mark)
  3. Jim Andrews, Polishing God's momuments - Pillars of hope for punishing times (I believe it is so important to think about how to deal with trials and hard times before they hit us; I can highly recommend this book)

It's harder to come up with a ranking for non-Christian books, I don't remember all the ones I read in 2007, so here is just a list of three which I liked:
  • Allison Weir, Innocent Traitor (historical fiction; an account of the life of Lady Jane Grey; this was the best fiction I read in 2007)
  • Philippa Gregory, The Boleyn inheritance (historial fiction; this is no. 3 in a whole series about Tudor England; all of them are great)
  • J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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New Year breakfast food

Since we lived in Norway, one dish has always been part of the New Year's breakfast at my parents' home: Norwegian pickled herring. Now that my DH and I try to make our own traditions and memories, it is still part of breakfast on January 1st.
It tasts great and is really easy to make, so here is the recipe for all of you:

1 onion
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
100 g white sugar
1 teaspoon peppercorns
3 bay leaves
5 whole cloves
1 package of herring

Cut the onion into slices. Put it into a pot and add all other ingredients save the herring. Bring to a boil and then let it cool. Cut the herring into pieces, put into a storage bowl, pour the cooled sauce over the herring and keep it in a cool place for 2-3 days. (Although this year I'm only preparing it one day in advance - it will taste anyway :)).

Have a joyful New Year's Eve today!

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

German Winter Fun

About two weeks ago we invited some friends over for a Feuerzangenbowle. I just found out that our friends Katie and John videotaped part of it - actually the most "important" part of lighting a cone of processed sugar soaked in rum over the warm wine, juice and spices.
As the flames are really pretty, I thought I'd share the video here too. And if you are interested in the viewpoint of our friends from the US on the whole experience - and life in Germany - just go to their blog and have fun.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas memories

One year ago my beloved DH asked me to be his wife :).

German and French Christmas decorations

I could not resist sharing a few more Christmas decorations with you. I just took them out of the cupboard today, now that Christmas Eve is so close.
First, these are two very traditional German Christmas decorations from the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge in German): the angel and the miner. They always go together. Later today I will put candles in the holders on their hands and we will light them when we have our Christmas celebration.

And this is our nativity scene which I put up today. These little figurines are from the French region of "Provence" which is in Southern France. They are called Santons. I've been collecting them for a while and really like them. A little different than the typical nativity, but not too much :).


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Our first Christmas tree

This is our first Christmas as a married couple living together. How many first times to experience! Both of us are from families who put up the Christmas tree on the evening of the 23rd - it is German custom to do it either that evening or on the morning of the 24th of December. We, however, decided to put up our tree early this year! So last Sunday (2nd of Advent) we jumped in the car, drove around and actually bought a tree from a farmer a few miles from our place. Btw our tree is a real tree, of course!
After cutting part of the trunk off and fighting with the tree holder (or whatever the right English word is) we decorated our tree together while watching a Brian Setzer Christmas concert DVD - which was a compromise between listening to a Christmas CD or to other CDs :).
Isn't it interesting to start new traditions when you start your own family? Adopting one or the other, a mix or something new and all your own? The decoration on our tree is a mix of both our family's traditions. Fortunately our tastes are rather similar - and we both like only old-fashioned tinsel. So now every day when it starts getting dark we enjoy the lights on our tree as we sit in our livingroom! Here are a few more glimpses of our tree:

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Two-day trip to Austria

Thursday morning my DH and I left for a two-day trip to Graz, the main city of Styria, Austria's South-Eastern province. It's a small quaint city and its old part of town is part of the World Cultural Heritage. I am actually a PhD student there, although I'm hardly ever in Graz. Fortunately I can work on my PhD here in Germany. But now I had to arrange some burocratic things, so we turned it into a trip. But these official duties took only about 20 minutes which left us lots of time to enjoy the city.
The weather on Thursday was beautiful. So we decided to hike up the castle hill and visit the Bell Tower and the Clock Tower. We also spent some time on the terrasse of a small café up on the hillside with a beautiful view of the city. We stayed up there until sunset and enjoyed watching the city with all the Christmas lights on. Then my DH and I strolled through the Christmas markets and looked for some Styrian food for dinner. Styria is especially famous for pumpkin seed oil btw.

The next day we visited the world's largest collection of old weapons. It was really interesting. The most amazing was a jousting armor for - a horse!


Christmas meme

Mrs. Darling posted her own Christmas meme on her blog. So here are my answers:

1. What is your favorite Christmas carol: Ich steh an Deiner Krippen hier (I am standing at your manger) by Paul Gerhardt who wrote many German Protestant hymns.

2. What is your favorite secular Christmas song? Spontaneously "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas". It hardly ever snows here on Christmas...

3. What is your favorite Christmas movie? The Muppet Christmas Carol

4. What is your favorite Christmas memory growing up? Christmas in Norway with lots of snow and looking at picture books while sitting in a nook behind the Christmas tree.

5. Do you shop early or a you a late shopper? I want to shop early, but then suddenly it's only two weeks until Christmas... WAH!

6. Is your tree real or artificial? Real of course!

7. Do you still put tinsel on your tree? Yes, but only silver tinsel.

8. Do you read the Christmas story every year on Christmas day? I read it on Christmas Eve, but by myself. At our home we did not have this as a tradition. I hope to do this differently in my on family.

9. Would you consider yourself to be a grinch? I have to admit that I never watched the movie or read the book...

10. Are you more like Scrooge or Father Christmas? Father Christmas, I think.

11. Do you make homemade gifts for friends and family? Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't.

12. What was the worst Christmas present you ever received? I don't remember although I'm sure something would qualify...

13. What was your favorite Christmas present ever? The engagement ring I received last year :).

And I'll skip no. 14 because I don't have any kids. So feel tagged everyone and if you do the meme, leave a comment please. I'm looking forward to your answers!