Canadian Christmas

My first Canadian Winter
It is cold.... very cold! But it's also soooo beautiful :) So I think I can deal with the cold in exchange for these amazing memories. It's all a matter of the right clothing... or, better yet, layers! :D So I'm all bundled up and ready to face the -22° we have outside (Celcius that is). Lots of snow around :D

Cuddle time!
My Canadian family picked me up at the Airport in Edmonton on the 20th and we went straight to Swiss Chalet, which fit me just fine, because let's face it, their meat combo is to die for! *yuuum* I'm so happy to be back here, it's crazy :) We have a couple of new dogs on the ranch and naturally I can't stay far away from them for very long. Luckily they seemingly like me too, or maybe they just like lying around in my bed.... :D The black one is Radical and the gorgeous Border Collie in the front is Luca.

Dirt Road Dog Race
She might very well be the most adorable dog I've ever laid eyes on *I'm in love* The only "problem" with those two is that they are only 8 months old... and they have a lot of energy :) So I try to take them for a little walk and fun in the snow every now and then... Give them a good dirt road workout :D They seem to enjoy it...

In Canada, christmas is mostly celebrated on the 25th, but naturally, my family back home celebrated on the 24th. Luckily, Carolyn has 1000 free minutes for international phone calls, so I was able to call my parents in the morning while they were having their traditional family dinner. Thanks to technology, my brother then sent me a picture from back home. This might very well be the cutest picture my family ever sent me :)

Aren't they just absolutely adorable?
Can't deny that I've shed some tears upon seeing this... but luckily, I've got a family over here too who were quick to offer me comforting hugs :) Still don't know what I did to deserve not one but two loving families... *so grateful* And no they don't usually write in English... that kinda makes it even cuter :)

Carolyn and Carolin :)
For christmas, Barbara and Tim got everybody christmas PJs :) Mine have reindeer on them *yay* what can I say, they know me too well :) So we all wore our christmas PJs for our christmas breakfast on the 25th which Brian cooked for us *yum* lots of cranberries and lots of ham :)

Lavern as Santa :)
And then we dove right into our presents. The entire living room was full of them :) It took us quite a while till all the boxes were opened and presents were exchanged. My family showered me with gifts *thank you* the best one was probably the BAZINGA shirt Barbara and Tim got for me :) perfect timing! *hihihi* And then we had christmas dinner... oh my... it was SOOOO GOOOOOD The turkey alone would have me convinced, but the rest was just sooo delicious too! Brian made a sweet potatoe casserole with marshmellows *yummy* and I helped with the mashed potatoes, putting in mum's secret ingredient after Brian's idea of adding mint failed. Oh it was just absolutely delicious! Of course, everybody was pretty stuffed afterwards... but there's always room for pie! (Which is a good thing since Tim made like four different pies for christmas...) We ended up lying on the couches in the living room in varying stages of fatigue and watching DVDs :) It's good to be back!

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening...
Today (Boxing day) we went for a sleigh ride! *yay* Complete with Jingle Bells and everything! It's still freakin' cold, but who cares if you can have so much fun! The horses really dug into the snow and pulled the little sleigh through the pasture - it was beautiful :) very christmassy indeed! Afterwards, we were invited in the beautiful log home for a hot chocolate with baileys and some snacks - what a nice way of spending the afternoon! Back home I was just in time to take my first snow sunset picture! I love this place....


In Flight Entertainment :)

I'm starting to become somewhat of a flying expert :D 12 flights on this trip so far, visited 10 different airports and have now used five different airlines - I can tell you a thing or two about in flight entertainment by now :D My favorite is still Air Canada though - they are simply the best. Didn't get to fly with them this time but I have a feeling I will return to Canada, so there's always the future :D Delta was actually pretty nice too, but service-wise, I definitely preferred American Airlines. They are all so unbelieveably nice :D And they have nice planes with more leg room than Delta (or so it seemed). Anyways, the reason for this post is not so much an analysis of different airlines as it is my flight from Boston to L.A. That was by far the most amazing flight I've ever had! Why? Well, look at this!

And yes, that's a shot from the plane (I love my camera). We flew over the Rockies and over parts of New Mexico and Arizona :) It was absolutely breathtaking! I mean, look at this!!!

And the best is yet to come! Sure enough, at some point, I look down and I'm thinking "wait, isn't that..." and that's when the captain informs us that we are indeed flying over the Grand Canyon :D There wasn't a cloud on the sky, so I got to experience the Grand Canyon from 30.000 feet - PHENOMENAL!!!!

I know, technically this still means that I wasn't there, but, seriously, could I have any better view than this? I highly doubt it! :D I was virtually glued to my window for the entire flight and we we neared L.A., I actually got the panorama shot with downtown L.A. on one side and the Hollywood hills on the other - no time to get out the camera though... but at least I took a picture of the city and the Sierra in the back from my next fllight on my way to Edmonton. I'll be back there soon, so it's not like I won't have another chance for that panorama shot ;)


Bye Bye Beantown

Wow... four months have passed... feels more like five minutes :) or like a lifetime, depending on the perspective, I guess... I took off from a crazy-busy Logan Airport very early thursday morning and headed West. I know I will return one day and thanks to all this beautiful technology, I will easily keep in touch will all my newfound favorite people :D So much has happened in the past four months that it's still a little hard to wrap my head around everything. So I was happy to wrap up my time on the eastcoast by saying goodbye to everyone and everything in Boston I've come to love :).

Goodbye-week started last thursday (on the 13th) with the Write on the dot end of year event at Savin Bar&Kitchen. Coming full circle from when I first encountered the students from the master program at UMass and have read my own poetry at the open mic night, the evening was the perfect opportunity to say goodbye to my Bostonian Word nerds - and to Saving Hill in a way - and I was glad that Katie and John came out too to enjoy the show with me :) We enjoyed the metaphoria game as well as the Rum Diary cocktail :D and I introduced my fellow writer Katie to some of the MFA students. Kurt said goodbye in German and Aaron gave me another one of their journals for my word nerds in Frankfurt :) Maybe we can create some kind of writing-exchange or something :D that would be so much fun...

Friday morning, I met with Modupe at our usual location: McKenna's
Again, this felt like saying goodbye to Savin Hill in a way - enjoying Savin Hill's best locations once more before I had to leave :D NOTHING beats breakfast at McKenna's! It's sooo good! And it was nice to see Modupe again, the first friend I made at UMass, before she flew back to London for the holidays. I'm glad she found time in her very very busy PhD schedule to say goodbye :)

Saturday, I walked over to school one last time, enjoying the Harbor Walk and finally taking some pictures of the school and the waterfront before I headed into the city to say goodbye to the North End. I'll really miss my morning walk to school :) I mean, seriously, who can say they enjoy a stunning ocean view on their way to school? That might be the one thing missing from my University in Frankfurt :D
And my beloved North End *hmpf* How I will miss Haymarket, Italian Bostonians and Mike's pastries :D I finally tried that sandwich shop I wanted to find ever since I watched "What's your number" and I found it *yay* still don't think they actually shot the movie there, but oh well, close enough, isn't it?

They really do have great sandwiches at Bova's bakery by the way :D

Not even checking to verify the deadline for my Final take home, I decided to have a do-nothing-day on sunday and just stay in. The weather was yucky anyways, so it seemed like the perfect plan... yeah, the deadline was monday at noon.... probably not such a good idea after all... so monday morning, I frantically tried to finish the exam and made it just in time *phew* but I have to say, that was probably not my best work... The rest of monday was Maureen day :D We went to the Cheesecake factory for lunch (which was absolutely delicious as usual) and just hung out, both still in denial about my departure... and I still hadn't sent my bag, but somehow, I couldn't find the inspiration to think about packing too much...

Tuesday was Katie day, which was perfect since I had a LOT to discuss with my favorite UMass person ;) We hung out all afternoon and I'm sorry if I talked your ear off Katie, there was just so much to tell :D I also got to share some music with her *yay* and eventually, John decided to join us too and we went to the Venice for dinner. Oh yeah, the Venice :) another one of those Savin Hill places you HAVE TO visit! :D *yuuuum* Best Chicken Alfredo EVER! Katie and John loved it too and I managed to take a quick picture to remember them by ;) I know you guys probably hate me for uploading this, but this is exactly how I will remember you :D I love you guys! :D

Maureen had the fire going when we came back, which made me a little sentimental, I have to admit... Goodbyes are not my strong suite... So we sat by the fire for a little while longer until I absolutely couldn't stay awake any more...

Wednesday I had a more or less surprising visitor :) And so instead of making wednesday my cry-and-goodbye-day, it became Jeff Day! He had never been to Boston, so I absolutely *had to* show him around, which in turn gave me the chance to properly say goodbye to Beantown too. So I took him to all my favorite places in the city (minus cambridge - not enough time for that) We started at the North End *surprise* and made our way over Quincy Market, Faneuille Hall up State Street and over to the Common, from where we went into the Public Garden and eventually walked up Newbury Street. I finally tried Georgetown cupcakes and immediately wished I had tried them before *yum* So if you're ever in Boston, make sure to stop there ;) On our way back, I took a final picture of the best skyline view in Boston and we shared the leftover Alfredo before he had to head back and I was left alone, packing up the rest of my stuff and saying goodbye to the place I've grown to love so much.

I don't know what I did to deserve yet another place to call home, but I will be forever grateful for this experience. Seems like yesterday that Maureen picked me up from South Station with her convertible and showed me around her beautiful city. And now, I'm sitting in my Winter Wonderland in Canada, miles away from the Atlantic coast - crazy :)

No home would be complete without the people that make it so homey. So thank you Katie, John, Modupe,  Jeff and, most of all, Maureen (and Hankie, T.C. and Patches!) for making this one of the happiest times of my life. I love you and can't wait to see you again! That's a promise :)


Christmas Decorations

hach.... es is Weihnachtszeit... keine Plätzchen... kein Glühwein... kein Weihnachtsmarkt... aber!

Hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps :) (am I the only person thinking of Big Bang Theory when they hear peppermint schnapps???) oh yeah! Maureen finished the Christmas decorations on wednesday. 12.12.12 what a wonderful date :) We were both very... casually dressed, but we decided to take pictures anyways :D with the help of my camera's self-shooting mode... go figure :D

So, armed with hot chocolate (with extras...), brownies from Savin Scoop (heavenlyyyy) and with the "help" of Patches and Hankie, we celebrated decorating the tree! It's a patriots fan too of course.... and Red Sox - even though they sucked this year... The tree doesn't judge (apparently)

On sunday, we were listening to christmas music, too, but this time, we had the 12.12.12 concert on, live from Madison Square Garden - it was awesome! The boss rocked with Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones were as awesome as ever - it was the perfect musical addition :) Patches had fun playing with the decoration while Hank didn't look quite as happy about being decorated :D but Maureen and I certainly had fun bellowing out "Dead or alive" while alternating between the living room and the music room :) Man I'm gonna miss this house...

And then the tree was finally at a point where it looked like Santa had thrown up in the room - which was what Maureen had been aiming for all along - so we took a final picture (pretty, huh?) I pressed Rudolph's paw one last time to rock with the red-nosed reindeer (and to make Hankie jealous) and we finally shut off all the lights to enjoy the christmas lighting :D I love christmas...

In diesem Sinne frohe Weihnachten, merry christmas, happy holidays, felize navidad, buon natale und vor allem cheers! :) 



Today, I took a stroll through the ever-busy streets of Cambrige around Harvard Square. The sun was out, the weather was finally chilly enough to be called mid-December and the lights were already up everywhere. The great thing about Harvard Square is not necessarily the university looming in the background (though it might help) - it's the rustle and bustle of a college town, the cute, little shops sprinkled around everywhere and the many many brickstone buildings that make it feel like home (my northern Germany home that is). 

They have the notorious Starbucks Cafés of course. Many of them, actually, on every other corner... But there's also a "Licks"  next door, that's home made ice cream! Not as good as B&J but not many things are... ;) Then there's my favorite store :)

Though, I have to say, I spent more money at the Body Shop at the T station... :) But, oh well... today, I ventured over to Panera - I know it's a chain but they have an open fireplace! - to enjoy a cup of soup and an early sandwich before I explored the streets around Harvard Square... mighty pretty here, I must say...

I found a rather odd looking Christmas tree... 

:D but then again, it is a college town after all :D

I decided to head home rather early... but not without checking out those two lovely looking shops!

With a cup of tea and a cupcake in hand I took one last round around the neighborhood - guess what the back of that Starbucks looks like? 

I just had to take a picture of that :D hihi... :)

Why I love Midnight in Paris

Ok, this might seem like a weird post and it might very well be, but it's actually very current :) I just woke up and went downstairs where the TV was running (as usual) and since it's sunday, a movie was on. Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris to be exact. 

Now, I don't know how many of you know this film but I think it's absolutely lovely. Why? Because it's ultimately about art and an inexplainable love for the written word, the painters of the past and Paris in all its glory.

Many of you know that I am not particulary fond of the French, and yet, this film makes even me want to jump on the next train to the French capital (yes I live close enough to board a train to Paris - well, not right now, but when I'm back home...) And that alone already says a lot. 

But it's Owen Wilson's performance of a struggling and maybe slightly over-illusional writer that really grabs my attention every time I watch this all-time-favorite. He struggles, he dreams and his dreams come true - as unlikely as they may seem. It is hard to talk about the film without giving away too much, you just gonna have to watch it yourself. All I can say is as a writer and an art-lover, this film speaks to me. It lets me dream and it touches something in my own imagination that makes me want to write or paint or sometimes both. It's a revelation wrapped in a fairy tale and I never tire of watching Wilson walking through the nightly streets of Paris. It makes me want to go to France :) 

So, if you have the time, go check it out! It's worth it :) And it's the perfect start for a lazy sunday filled with writing! 

Midnight in Paris on IMDB.com


Texas - epilogue

Just two more things about the Lone Star State. Jayne recommends Austin's local beer (Austin Amber)  as tested at Frank and Angie's Pizzeria on Sixth Street (delicious!)

I can recommend the pizza! :)

And I forgot my favorite picture! The Texan Christmastree: 

Happy holidays everbody :)