After the debacle that happened on Sunday, we decided that we would stay low key and use the car to travel nearby.  After a quick call to Anna & Wilhelm's for suggestions, we decided that we would go to Tecklenburg, a village about 30 minutes away.  
It's a higgily-piggily sort of place, with crooked lanes and a quiet air.  Our main requisite was that we be near the forest, and we were not disappointed.  I'll let the pictures do the talking now.
Earlier last week I decided that I would rent a car and the girls and I would surprise Aaron by meeting him at Frankfurt Airport. I then planned a route that would take us to Bavaria, down the same roads that my Babcia herself had once travelled. I booked a hotel in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a medieval town that is supposed to conjure up all impressions of German folklore.  

Instead, this happened.

After waking up at 5 in the morning, we set off for Frankfurt, but not before driving 40 minutes in the opposite direction. After an hour and half of driving, we were finally back where we started. I should have just went home at this point, but lured in by the possibility of speeding on the autobahn without incurring any fines, I pushed forward, confident I would make it there on time.

We reached the airport 10 minutes after Aaron was supposed to land and we ran like the wind was behind us. He wasn't at the gate. So we ran some more, to try to catch him at the train station. We literally shouted his name, running along the track, desperately trying to find him. Germans are fairly reserved. A woman pushing a stroller with two children attached, tears falling and screaming her husband's name while running was a spectacle for sure. 
We didn't find him. Resigned, we started to turn around. Claudia thought we were never going to see Aaron again. I didn't correct her as I was pretty upset and wanted to commiserate. Almost on the highway, I decided to stop at the police station so I could chill the fuck out before I got back on the racetrack. Police officers walked by me and didn't even question why I was parked where it clearly said it was forbidden to do so. Perhaps they just assumed that I had a husband who was taken into custody and I was just trying to come to terms with it. 

So where was Aaron? Sitting, pleased as punch that he had caught the EARLY train and would be home even sooner than he expected. When he came home to find his computer missing, he went into frantic mode and started calling anyone who might know where his possessions may be. So now everyone knew I was an idiot.

The girls and I had a lovely lunch at a road stop gas station and finally made it home close to twelve hours after we left. We will try to make the trip again, without all the surprises. And since we still have the car for another day, we're going to make the most of it. We're taking the girls out for dinner, because Ikea hot dogs are worth the drive.
Yay! This rest stop is so GREAT.
Claudia pouting because there isn't enough snow to make a snow man. That's her biggest disappointment of the day.
Somewhere between Bavaria and the Black Forest, this is what you get.
I'm not good with crafts and kids.  The children are, for the most part, deprived.  They have lovely Grandmas that are willing and even eager to clean up after them, so that's where the painting and glitter and glue generally take place.  

I have two friends in Germany.  One of which is my husband. He's away talking to other people about math in California.  My other friend, well, I would like to keep her that way, so I'm not hounding her saying "let us in, let us in!"   I've only showed up unannounced on her doorstep once, actually.  

Disclaimer #2:  I'm not a fan of taking them out in public either. They scream, people look, it's not fun.  Maybe that's why I only have two friends??
I guess I'll mention (I don't like to brag) that they do have an in-house language instructor come in every afternoon. That I can do.
When pitted against each other, crafting seemed like the lesser evil compared to public shrieking.  I have delved deep into scrapbook mommy territory searching and have come up with a few good ones.  My favourite was this owl print.  Simple, not too messy and pretty enough to hang on the wall.  
Claudia looks thrilled!
Claudia told Aaron last night that "she didn't miss him that much", so yeah, I'm going to take that as a compliment. Check out Pinterest for similar crafts or to fast forward time. You may get lost in there.  Happy crafting!
People are picky about their bananas.  Firm, slightly green, just ripe, slightly over-ripe, I know all kinds of banana eaters.  Including my daughter Eloise.  She LOVES bananas, for one day only, and then they sit on the counter and morph into ick.  Enter banana bread.  I usually use an old Joy of Cooking recipe, but I've been into the website food gawker and tried out a recipe from there, with a few little tweaks.  The end result was moist, not too dense and with good height.  Exactly like a first date should be.  Ahem.

Banana Bread
Adapted from Good Housekeeping circa 1962

1 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 and 1 tbsp. butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 mashed bananas
1/2 cup yogurt, optional
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9″x5″3″ loaf pan.
2. Mix together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
3. With electric mixer cream butter and sugar, then add eggs until mixture is fluffy and light. (I added 1/2 cup of greek yogurt at this point)
4a. Add flour mixture alternatively with bananas until just mixed.
4b. Don't do 4a, life is too short.  Just mix it all together with a gentle hand.
5. Turn into pan.
6. Bake for 1 hour.
The kids loved it for breakfast.
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Germany has strict laws in place prohibiting retail stores from operating on Sunday.  It's an effort to "synchronize society" and keep the traditional day of rest in place.  I love the values behind it, and see no fault in limiting consumerism to 6 days a week.  It helps protect families by ensuring that they are, by law, given at least one day to spend with each other.  But heaven help you if you run out of milk.  Gas Station Milk does nothing for the soul.

In Münster, Saturday is market day, and all good wives and mothers are out buying goods for the next day's hot meal.  There is also a drop in centre right outside the market for children so the parents can shop in peace for up to three hours.  It really is peaceful.  

I had some German recipes translated and hit the market with my list.  On that list was savoy cabbage.  Soon after coming home, the girls decided that we should take some cabbage and carrots to the bunny patch the next day and give those little guys a treat.

So today, Sunday, with nothing else to do but go out in the pouring rain (have I mentioned how much it rains in Münster before?) we went and fed the bunnies.  We crawled through the low shrubbery that the bunnies hide out in and scattered the leaves and carrots and we waited.  And waited.  No bunnies came but it was so nice to just have the girls sit still under the canopy of a shrub and listen to the rain all around us.

On our way home we stopped in at the chocolate cafe to warm up with hot chocolate and croissants.  It was nice.  Perhaps I've been too hard on German Sundays?  With a little bit of imagination, we had a perfect day of rest.
Her outdoor gear.
In the shrub.
The best croissants in the city. They sell out every day. We felt lucky.
As Claudia said "This was the best crappiest day ever!"
Pending entry deleted by four year old.  Big plans for pouting this evening.  Gonna look something like this:

I'm a self proclaimed sandwich expert.  Before I learned to cook, I learned to make sandwiches.  I adored a crusty croissant with brie, honey mustard and black forest ham, and probably had it for dinner every night in my early twenties.  A pita wrapped around sliced turkey with sweet potato hummus, goat cheese and arugula is perfect.  I used to go to a Chinese restaurant every day after school with some friends and order a fried egg sandwich for $1.50.  

I really could go on, but I'm feeling pretty pathetic remembering all the special sandwiches I've had.  Oh god, there was also the year long love affair with Subway roast beef sandwiches with green peppers and pickles.  I'm done.  After this one:

I believe my love of sandwiches started in the most humble of circumstances.  My Mother, god bless her, was and still is a "don't talk to me until I have my coffee" kind of morning person.  She NEEDS that hour between her waking up and the rest of the household coming to life.  She was the type that if my brother and I were waking up at 6, she would set her alarm for 5.  
She is also very organized.  She knew the steps that needed to be taken between us waking up and us getting out to school.  Breakfast first.  For our entire childhood we would wake up to her shouting "Breakfast is ready!", not a nudge or anything else would rouse us out of bed.  

And what was this breakfast that I so fondly remember?  It was affectionately known as Burnt Toast. White bread with cheese whiz smeared on top and then put under the broiler until the fake cheese bubbled and turned black.  Cut in half, the cheese would ooze out and you could dip your crusts in that and feel pretty satisfied.  This breakfast of ours was the definition of a food jag, and now that I have kids of my own I feel REALLY sorry that we made my Mom make this so often.  I'm sure she wished that we were really into Muesli, but yuck.

I wrote all of this just to say, if you're craving a sandwich, have I got a good one for you! 
This is a focaccia sandwich with roasted red peppers, turkey and a mix of arugula, feta, olive oil and lemon juice.  The flavours were bright, the bread was both soft and crunchy, it was just plain good.  Give yourselves a break and make a sandwich for dinner tonight.  You'll be happy you did!
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I haven't learned to love the rain, but then when the sun does finally break through the morning haze, I have never before been so happy to see shadows.  
The secret to this loaf is the yummy glaze that you pour over it immediately after taking it out from the oven.  It's a great recipe to impress your family on a rainy day, as it uses ingredients most of us have on hand.  I had leftover poppy seeds after making Ham & Cheese Sliders on Boxing Day, but you could omit them altogether if you just add an extra tablespoon of flour to your measurements.  

Here is the recipe as it appeared in Canadian Living.  I followed it faithfully up until they told me to wait 12 hours before eating it.  See above photo to understand why that wasn't about to happen. 
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, softened
  • 1 cup (250 mL) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) grated lemon rind
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) milk
Lemon Syrup:
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) sugar
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) grated lemon rind
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) lemon juice

In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, poppy seeds, lemon rind, baking powder and salt; stir into butter mixture alternately with milk, making 3 additions of flour mixture and 2 of milk. Spread in greased 8- x 4-inch (1.5 L) loaf pan.

Bake in centre of 325°F (160°C) oven for 1 hour or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Place pan on rack. 

Lemon SyrupIn saucepan or microwaveable measure, warm together sugar and lemon rind and juice until sugar dissolves. With skewer, pierce hot loaf in 12 places right to bottom; pour lemon syrup over loaf. 

Let loaf cool in pan for 30 minutes; turn out onto rack and let cool completely. Wrap and let stand for 12 hours before slicing. (Make-ahead: Store at room temperature for up to 2 days or overwrap with heavy-duty foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks.)
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