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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Super Fast Shipping from the U.S. to Germany

I am pretty experienced in shipping packages between the U.S. and Germany. All I have learned, however, is that it is impossible to estimate when to expect your package in either direction.

shipping from America to GermanyAsk at the post office, and they will tell you that shipping to Germany takes about 2 weeks. The last few packages my family sent me from the U.S., however, have been especially slow.

Here are the last two packages I got:

Sent from Chicago: 10/17/13
Received in Lüneburg: 11/8/13
Total: 23 days

Sent from New Orleans: 12/9/13
Received in Lüneburg: 12/31/13
Total: 22 days

Damn, that's over 3 weeks both times! When I lived in the U.S. and sent packages to my boyfriend in Germany, he typically got them in abut 10-14 days.

Since I have type 1 diabetes and American health insurance, my mother has to send me my supplies for my insulin pump from the U.S. So when I realized I only had about a month of supplies left, my mother was quick to get the package in the mail. What if it took nearly a month like the last times?

This time, however, she got a tracking number. Here is what happened:

1/21/14 - dropped off at post office (USPS)
1/22/14 - package arrived at Chicago sorting facility
1/22/14 - processed through sorting facility in Chicago
1/24/14 - processed through sorting facility in Germany
1/24/14 - customs clearance processing complete
1/27/14 - arrival at post office in Lüneburg
1/27/14 - delivered to my apartment

Dang! That's only 6 days!

But why was the shipping so fast? My mom didn't pay anything extra to get faster shipping, but if you look at the package you will notice a "Priority" sticker:

shipping from the U.S. to Germany

It specifically says that this is only valid domestically, however, so this can't really be the reason. So what is the moral of this story?

Sometimes shipping from the U.S. Germany takes 6 days, sometimes it takes 26. You can just never know.

Oh, and by the way:

american food


Monday, January 27, 2014

My Last German Class EVER!

Today is (probably) my last German class ever! I am currently taking a C1/C2 course at the VHS, and today is our last day of class. Then, in about 2.5 weeks, I will take the TestDaF, a German fluency exam. So I have a very stressful couple of weeks ahead, but it is crazy to think that once this test is over, that could be it!

Standing in front of the Reichstag

So while I'm feeling nostalgic, let's take a look back at my long journey to learning the "awful German language" as Mark Twain put it:

My very first German class was when I was a sophomore in high school at 15 years old. I liked it so much, I continued to take it for the next two years until I graduated.

After graduating high school, I went to college at Loyola University Chicago. I took German 103 the first semester of my freshman year, and then German 104 the second semester. Unfortunately, there were no higher level German classes available at the school after that.

I really wanted to continue learning German, and I was very interested in visiting Germany. So, for the Fall semester of my senior year at Loyola, I decided to study abroad. I went to Leuphana University in Lüneburg, where I took intensive German courses. So in just 3 months, I went through B1, B2, and C1 classes.

In July 2013, I moved to Germany. Once here, I started up this course at the VHS! And today, January 27, marks the last day of class.

So after working toward this day for nine long years, here's to hoping I will pass the TestDaF!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How to Make the Perfect Soft-Boiled Egg: Egg-Perfect Review

Germany's favorite way to eat an egg in the morning is as a Frühstucksei, or soft boiled egg. The problem is, the German boyfriend and I are horrible at keeping track of time and getting it to the perfect hardness.


Luckily we found the Egg-Perfect. Here is how it works:

using the egg-perfect

The Egg-Perfect is made of some kind of plastic/silicone material, and it is flat on the back. You put it directly in the water with the eggs.

how to use the egg-perfect

Then bring it to a boil, and let it cook away. The Egg-Perfect slowly changes color to a darker red color at the edge.

cooking soft boiled eggs

Once the dark red section reaches the line of the hardness that you want, you can remove it from the heat. Marco and I like it at the line between weich (soft) and mittel (middle). This gets the whites hard, and leaves the yellow runny.

egg-perfect heated up

Here you can see the dark red color a little better. After it is out of the water for a minute, however (like in this picture) the line starts to blur a little bit.

the perfect soft boiled egg

And here is the result. Doesn't that look amazing?!

How do you like your eggs?

This is not an advertisement, and I was not paid to write this review. I really just think the Egg Perfect is awesome.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Low Carb Pizza Recipe

Since my German boyfriend and I both have type 1 diabetes, it is nearly impossible to enjoy pizza anymore. That is, until we discovered this low carb pizza recipe. Made from cheese and eggs, I think it's as close as you can get to the real thing in taste with only about 6 g of carbohydrates in the entire 9x13 inch crust!

So if you are trying to cut carbs out of your diet, here is our delicious recipe for low carb pizza:

Low Carb Pizza Crust Ingredients:
2 eggs
1 cup Parmesan cheese
8 oz. (225 g) cream cheese

Low carb pizza crust ingredients

I live in Germany, so excuse the fact that the packaging is in German. But all you need for the crust is shredded Parmesan cheese, cream cheese (or Neufchâtel cheese if you want a little less fat), and two eggs.

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius).

225 g cream cheese

Then simply measure out your ingredients, and mix them all together in a bowl.

mixing low carb pizza dough

This mixture will be your dough for the crust. Don't worry if it is quite liquid. It will firm up in the oven. Once everything is well blended, pour it into a greased 9x13 baking pan. We have a pretty cheap pan, so we used parchment paper to make sure it didn't stick.

uncooked low carb pizza dough

Put it in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the top turns golden brown. It should come out looking something like this:

low carb pizza crust

Amazing, right?

Once it is out, crank up the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (220 degrees Celsius).

Now it's time for the sauce. If you are counting carbs, make sure to always check the nutrition facts of any pre-made sauces, as many use sweeteners. We just used plain canned tomatoes and added in some garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.

Then it is cheese and toppings time! We like to put our toppings on first, then the cheese.

low carb pizza toppings

Next, put it back in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is nice and bubbly.

low carb pizza cheese

Let it cool for at 10 minutes, then dig in!

low carb pizza

If you are a fan of cold pizza like me, then you will definitely want to try a few pieces of this pizza after its spent a night in the fridge. It is so good.

Let me know if you try the recipe!
Guten Appetit!

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Mystery of the Broken Heckscheibe

On December 10, 2013 at 2:15 p.m., Marco walked downstairs to return to work after his lunch break. I walked to the staircase window so I could wave as he left the building. But something was wrong. As Marco crossed the sidewalk in front of our apartment building, he looked at his car that he had parked there three days before.

This is what he saw:

He looked up to me in the window. We made eye contact. I ran into the apartment, grabbing my camera, a broom, and a dustpan. As I took pictures of broken rear window (Heckscheibe), he began making phone calls.

We were lucky that his insurance paid for everything in full, and the window was completely repaired by the following day. However, one question still remains: 

Who broke the window?

After thinking long and hard about this, I have rounded up some suspects:

1. Our Angry Neighbor
Our angry downstairs neighbor is known for hitting the ceiling with a broom whenever we watch TV past 10 p.m. One night, he even yelled at our visitors out the window as they left. Although we have never actually seen him ourselves, it is possible that he has watched us from his window, so he knew which car is ours.

2. A Bavaria-Hater
We live in Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), but Marco has Bavarian license plates. For my American friends, I would liken this to someone having Texas license plates that lives in New York. Nobody should have a problem with it, but some people have very strong feelings against the state. Maybe these feelings are strong enough that they decide to bash a window as they walk by.

3. The Passive-Aggressive Parker
About two weeks before this incident, Marco received an angry note on his car. It basically said he is an asshole because he took up two parking spaces. Even though he didn't actually take up two spaces, this person obviously doesn't understand how parallel parking works. So maybe they were so angry the second time they saw his car that they decided to leave a stronger message.

There are a few other possibilities, although they are not nearly as fun. It is possible something was wrong with the car, and it shattered itself. Or maybe it was Mother Nature's fault, and the weather somehow caused it. Unfortunately, it looks like we will never know.

Nevertheless, it is fun to hypothesize. Who do you think is the most likely suspect? The disgruntled neighbor, the proud citizen of Niedersachsen, or the angry note-writer? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Celebrating Silvester in Germany

This year was my first New Year's Eve in Germany, otherwise known as Silvester in German. So my German boyfriend had a great time showing me all of the county's peculiar traditions, which I will now share with you in pictures.

Berliner in the Morning
We walked by the bakery in the morning, and noticed everyone was buying dozens of Berliner. In fact, it was all the bakery had. So we figured we should pick up a couple as well.
Berliner for New Year's Morning
 The one on the left is filled with chocolate mousse, and the one on the right is filled with applesauce.
Eating a Berliner on New Year's
The applesauce one was amazing.

Mind-Blowingly Delicious Raclette
Raclette is the traditional dinner for New Year's in Germany. Raclette is a special kind of cheese from Switzerland, and you melt it over a mixture of meat and vegetables with a raclette grill. I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking.
Raclette meal

Eating a traditional swiss Raclette

Raclette on New Year's Eve
Yes, these photos are from different occasions. We have eaten raclette about 5 times in the past 2 weeks.

Dinner for One
It is definitely Germany's biggest New Year's tradition to watch Dinner for One. This is a British play that was once recorded by a German television station and has aired each year on New Year's Eve since.
We actually turned it into a nice drinking game where we took a sip of our champagne every time James drank. We ended up drinking about 3 glasses each in a matter of 10 minutes.
Watching Dinner for One on New Year's Eve

A Little Drinking
Maybe a lot of drinking, but I am pretty sure that is traditional everywhere in the world.
Drinking beer on New Year's Eve
Thanks Aunt Dale & Uncle Jerry for the koozies!

An Evening Cigar
I think these photos say it all. The cigar was Marco's idea, as I had never smoked one. You can see that I regretted trying immediately.
Smoking a New Year's cigar

Lots of Fireworks
Last but not least, is the crazy amount of fireworks Germans fire off. While fireworks are traditional on New Year's Eve all over the world, I am used to going to see a professional display, as all the good fireworks are illegal in Illinois. But no, fireworks are sold EVERYWHERE in the days before New Year's. So Marco got me a little package of some at the grocery store.
German fireworks for New Years
Then, at midnight, everyone goes out in the streets and shoots them off. Since I am a big wuss, I was scared of most of them. But I was happy to do the sparklers.
German sparklers
 And yes, Marco even shot some off of our balcony! 
Shooting fireworks off the balcony

I hope you all have a happy and healthy New Year!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mistranslation Monday: Zahnbrüste

The German word for toothbrush is Zahnbürste. Unfortunately, I find this word difficult to pronounce, so 99% of the time, I end up saying Zahnbrüste. Not a big deal, right? The Germans can probably forgive two letters getting switched around...

Well, the problem is that Bürste means brush, and Brüste means breasts. So when I say Zahnbrüste, they picture something like this:


And this can become awkward when you repeatedly use the word Zahnbrüste in front of your boyfriend's family at Christmas...

To read more of my embarrassing mistranslations, click here.

Hey! This post is now part of Young Germany's Awful German Language Link-up!
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