The girls decided to surprise us last night by eating their dinner. As a reward to them, and a pat on the back for ourselves, I suggested we take the kids out for a walk to get ice cream.  
See those droopy eyes on Claudia? That's her slowly getting stoned off dark chocolate ice cream. The following hour was the most erratic hour of my life. I remember that my brother wasn't allowed chocolate for the longest time because it made him insane. The genes have resurfaced. 

First she wanted to do relay races. Then a marching band. Complete with instruments of our own imagination. Except she was the LEADER so she decided what instruments we would play. When I refused to march through town playing an imaginary tuba, she became unhinged. She started playing her own magic music called "5 year old public temper tantrum."  We had to seek refuge. We found a church. "Sanctuary! Sanctuary!"

This is where Claudia becomes paranoid. There is a choir and orchestra playing inside the church, music spilling out into the streets. It is breathtakingly beautiful. The members are performing Requiem for a War, written about when the Germans stormed Conventry. But Claudia finds it unsettling. She says it's eerie and evil and she starts to cry. We decide that the next time we treat the girls to ice cream, it's strawberry all the way. 
Eloise, not suffering, but trying to get a better listen. And really, hedgehog door handles?? I'm going to rob this church.
I love that there are little shops in random nooks and crannies all over the city. Today's store, Beflügelt, was a child's paradise, with lots of handmade goods and toys that were sentimental to the owner. She explained that as a child, all the kids had these tiny "lucky dolls" attached to every zipper they could find. At ten cents a pop, Eloise was gleeful looking through the basket. She even picked one out for her cousin Charlotte, who at 7 months old might just see it as a delectable choking hazard. But maybe not, since they're lucky.
Without even really trying, I've infected my kids with the rummage bug. The girls enjoy "treasure hunting" with me, and I enjoy it with them, as long as they don't touch anything. Ever.
I'm of the firm belief that nothing is more comforting than vintage cotton linens. Since next week we're going to have a house full of people who will need to sleep at some point, Eloise and I went out on a hunt. 
Unfortunately there were none to be found today, but that doesn't mean I didn't buy anything. Of course I bought something. Or things. Let's go with things.
Vintage marmelade and honey jars will be perfect storage for the random grains that make it into our house (millet, for one). But what really got me going was the font. Take this test to see what your "type" is.
A down filled pillow with muted pastels and softly worn silk quilting? Love it. Very deserving of a cuddle from my littlest treasure. 
After my assistant takes a nap we'll be off to finish what we started. It might take many tries to find what I'm looking for, but I'm willing to take on the job. It's the least I can do.
Better known as crack for budgies, millet appears in grocery stores here for human consumption. In my never ending quest to find some balance with what I eat, I've been finding myself more drawn to vegetarian cooking. Paired with a simple salad with a dijon vinaigrette, this was a meal that even the kids enjoyed. It tastes like crunchy rice-a-roni balls, and there can't be anything wrong with that. A full recipe can be found in The Joy of Cooking Cookbook, but here's the low down:

You will need:
1 yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes, packed in oil
1/3 cup millet
1/3 cup long grain rice
2 cups vegetable stock
1 green onion, sliced
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup grated parmesan
Vegetable or Canola oil for frying

Finely chop your onion and sauté in 2 TBS olive oil until translucent.  
Add the millet and rice and sauté for about five minutes, or until golden brown.
Add your garlic and tomatoes and stir for thirty seconds.
Add your veggie broth, bring to a boil and then down to med/low. 
Cover and cook for 30 minutes until the millet is tender and the water has evaporated.
Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.  Cool slightly and add your cheese, green onion, tomatoes and egg. Stir to combine.

With wet hands, mould the mixture into patty cakes (!) of about 2 inches thick. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Heat over med/high heat enough oil to cover your pan by a 1/4 inch. Fry four or five patties at a time. About 4 minutes on one side and then 2 on the next. Repeat with remaining patties. 

Drain on kitchen towel and serve immediately. Serves 4, with 2 cakes each.
I took the girls out to the country this weekend, to a manor called Haus Rüschhaus. Nestled into the woods, this mini palace was the summer home of architect Johann Schlaun, the man famous for Münster's palace, among others. The gardens are great for rambling, and there are great trails through the forest. 
It was on one of these trails that Eloise LOST HER MIND. The shrieking, oh my goodness. I thought she'd been bit by a snake. "Mommy!!!! A SNAIL!"  And then, "Can we keeeeeeep him?" Needless to say, one bus ride later Shelly the Snail found a new home in a tupperware container. He's an outgoing snail, as far as snails go. He loves lettuce, broccoli and strawberries for a treat. And he likes to be sprayed with water. Guys, I have a slug in my house and I love him.
If you haven't seen the above video then your life is incomplete. Oh how I embarrass myself with snort inducing laughter. Watch it, be happy and smile. It's worth it.  
Eloise just came to me and said, in her quietest little mouse voice, "Uh, Mommy? My cereal was dinner. Here are the scissors and a freezie." It's 7 am. It's going to be a long day.
On a bike ride the other day, we discovered this cafe named Nachtisch (Desserts) and resolved to make a visit sooner rather than later. Mother's Day was a perfect excuse to have sweets for lunch. We didn't hold back and each ordered what we wished.  
Claudia in her chocolate, chocolate and chocolate glory.
Eloise picked the simplest looking dessert, which ended up being the fan favourite.  It was a white chocolate torte with berries and jam on top.  So freaking good.
How fancy is THIS?  Vanilla bean panna cotta with chocolate brownie and brulèed sugar crisps. Dollops of white chocolate ganache and sour cherries dusted with pistachios. Gelato on the side and oh, of course gold. This was over the top and quite yummy, but looks were definitely its most defining attribute.
Ice Tea - Mint, Lemon, Cherry, Banana
We spent the better part of an hour there, just enjoying the sunshine while the girls played with puzzles. If you're ever out Münster way, I definitely recommend a visit. They serve my favourite Roestbar coffee and have a gorgeous patio, abundant with potted herbs. They also sell homemade preserves, which was a perfect little gift to pick up for Mother's Day.  
This is our go-to recipe for when we're too lazy to go pick up ingredients for dinner. Using pantry ingredients, it's a healthy, quick and very satisfying meal. We usually stop by the bakery on our way home from picking Claudia up at school, fresh rolls being the perfect vehicle for sopping up any leftover dressing on your plate. 
Go with whatever you have lying around. We start out by sautéing a red or yellow chopped onion, or a nice leek if you have one, in olive oil. We always add something smoky as well, either bacon or cured sausage. A few grated carrots join the pan, and feel free to use whatever veggies you might have that are reaching the end of their life. Celery, spinach and peppers would all be a good choice. Let this cook over low-med heat until it's all good and melty looking.  
Bring 6 cups water to a rapid boil and add 1 cup and 1/2 French Puy lentils. I choose these because they're tiny and less starchy than other lentils, but to each their own. I usually add a tablespoon of veggie bouillon for flavour. Cook for about 20 minutes, testing for tenderness and then drain and rinse your lentils in warm water.  Set aside.
To make your vinaigrette, add 1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup together with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a 1/3 cup olive or canola oil. If I'm feeling ambitious I will mash a clove or two of garlic with a teaspoon of salt in a mortar with pestle and add that to the dressing as well. Either way, you're going to want to add salt and pepper to the dressing, as you haven't added any to the other ingredients yet. Whisk until your dressing comes together.  
To assemble, add your lentils to the pan with the veggies and pour over your dressing. Add some crumbled feta to your liking and stir. This is equally delicious, if not better, the next day. Just make sure to omit the "Warm" from the name when you impress your friends with a bistro style lunch.  
My Mom sent me an interesting link titled This is Why You're German. Filled with anecdotes along the lines of "You know you're from a small town when ..." I was in full on chuckle territory. I would say 2/3 of the sayings went way over my head.  The ones that didn't, appear below, complete with my take on them.  

You wonder why all those people are standing waiting in line when it's easier to walk straight to the front.

This was the number 1 thing I noticed after moving here.  If you don't keep your eye on the prize, someone will move ahead of you in line without a second thought. You may even get a glare for being SO absentminded. You learn pretty quickly to stand in line with your hands on your hips, elbows out. 

You have absolutely no idea who the von Trapp family are and you can't sing along to any of the Sound of Music film songs.
Maybe this goes without saying?  I was naive enough to think otherwise.  Canadians know how to say "auf wiedersehen" more than any other German phrase because of this movie alone.

You think all houses should have roller shutters (Außen-Jalousie) so it´s nice and dark in your bedroom even in daytime.
These things are god-awful. Rolling down the metal blinds reminds me of prison films. You have no choice about this decor statement. German apartments may not come with kitchens, but they certainly come with these.

You wait for the pedestrian light to turn green before you cross the road for fear of being fined.
This is true and I like it this way. Nothing makes me more anxious than having waiting cars watch as a jiggle/run to make it across the street before they hit me.

You greet everyone in a doctors' waiting room with a friendly "Guten Tag!"

The first time this happened to me, I literally looked over my shoulder to see who this stranger was being so fucking chipper with. Good day??? Really? We're in a DOCTOR'S office.

So, yeah. German 101 for you right here. I've passed the half year mark of living in Germany so I'm practically an expert, wouldn't you say?