Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! – Fröhliche Weihnachten! – Joyeux Noël! – Geseënde Kersfees! – God Jul! – Feliz Navidad!

Christmas Greetings_merry Christmas

Wherever in the world you are I hope you and your family are having a wonderful holiday filled with many hugs, maybe some snow (?), good food, gifts (not necessarily of the materialistic kind) and everything else you’re wishing for. Even if you don’t celebrate I still hope you’re having an awesome time!

I’ll talk to you again soon!

 

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Have yourself a merry little Christmas [survey].

Seen, snagged, … that’s what I just had to do when I  spotted this survey over at Amanda’s. Reminiscening past Christmas celebrations surely helps make the holiday spirit resurface at least temporarily – even better if you’re listening to the right tunes while at it.  I’ve filled out the survey before but hey, Christmas happens again every year, too, so why not?!

Egg Nog or hot chocolate?
Hot chocolate all the way! At best made from scratch by my mum with that pinch of love added :). Egg Nog is out of question in anyway due to the eggs but I was actually the weird child enjoying my mum’s egg nog-frosted cakes around Easter years and years ago.

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Neither.  Some are wrapped but most hide in bags my mum sewed years and years ago –  we’ve been re-using them every year since.

Coloured lights on tree/house or white?
White lights. It’s fun walking past the houses of others decorating like crazy but constantly looking at that would give me headaches.

Coloured lights on tree/house or white?
No. I’ve only ever heard about that concept and seen it in a few movies. It’s apparently only a tradition in the UK and US??

When do you hang your decorations up?
Is it bad that I don’t have a set date for this? Let’s say around the end of November.

Christmas Eve_dinner_Rotkohl

What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert) what’s?
That one’s easy and my whole family would agree: my grandma’s Rotkohl  [in the above picture]. It’s red cabbage sauteed, braised with seasonal spices, vinegar, sugar, apples and some secret ingredients. It’s so.incredibly.delicious. Maybe it doesn’t sound like much typed out but the fact that I don’t miss the meat as long as I get seconds and thirds of this should tell you.

What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Right now there isn’t a lot yet and you know we’re this close to Christmas Eve. One wish, however, is a subscription to my favourite business magazine, brand eins. Sounds nerdy or boring? So far from it.

Do you open a gifts on Christmas Eve?
Yes!  We actually open all gifts on Christmas Eve because that’s the main holiday over here. Unless we see other relatives the next day we don’t give or receive any more gifts on the following two days.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
Given we don’t celebrate at the same house every year – alternating between my parents’, my grandparents’ and one of my aunt’s houses – it differs every year.  At my grandparents’ it’s a lot of traditional figurines [that I adore], straw stars,  …. Obligatory are only the red candles.

Christmas Tree 2013

Snow? Love it or dread it?
I’m divided about this.  Christmas without snow isn’t really Christmas, is it? But I could do without the dirty mush it turns into soon. Looking at the current forecast I’d better bring out the flip-flops [you know, the ones I don’t own …] OR ask my dad to get one of those snow cannons used in skiing areas ;).

Real tree or fake tree?
Let’s get real: only real ones perceive that complete Christmas-cozy feeling.  We’ve never had fake ones. Getting ours from the hillbilly vendor living far off in the woods used to be the dad-and-daugther tradition we had. Only not anymore now I won’t be able to go home any earlier than 23rd. At least I’ll get to decorate it with my sister.

Do you remember your favorite gift?
That’s a tough one. I got a lot of amazing gifts throughout all those [already 23! – craziness] years. A memorable one was the dollhouse my grandpa built himself – complete with teeny-tiny light switches in every room that turned the lights on.

What’s the most important thing about Christmas for you?
Hands down being with my family.  Especially now that I rarely get to see them in-between holidays.

What is your favourite holiday dessert?
Get ready to be shocked if you’ve been reading for a while because – it’s not chocolate.  My mum’s cinnamon parfait beats everything else. The name says it all: it’s perfect.

Christmas survey 2014_Collage

What is your favourite tradition?
Going on a walk with the whole family – grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and my siblings. I’m not sure we’ll see them all this year as we’re celebrating at my parents’ with my grandma and grandpa coming.  The remaining family members live several hours away and I only get to stay until the 27th.

What tops your tree?
You caught me off guard here. Depending on where we celebrate this decisions up to the man of the house. I think my grandpa has some kind of golden star and I’m not sure about my uncle and dad.

Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?
Giving because it’s wonderful to see somebody’s joy upon opening a gift to find something they didn’t expect but that fits them perfectly.

What is your favorite Christmas song?
Another tricky one. We don’t sing the same ones every year – plus they’re German – so I’ll go with those that I’m playing over and over on Spotify.  Two of them are “All I want for Christmas” because it reminds me of the cute scene in my favourite movie [see below] and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” as we used to sing it in the school choir. So yes, mostly songs that bring back memories for me. Isn’t Christmas time all about the memories??

Candy canes, yuck or yum?
We hardly have any of these over here and the only ones I’ve spotted at random weren’t even vegetarian. I’m a fan of mint flavours, though.

Christmas 2012_house

Favorite Christmas Movie?
There’s just one answer: “Love, Actually.” I’m this close to buying the DVD every year but then refrain because I want it to stay that special Christmas movie. Who knows about this year, though …?

What do you leave for Santa?
Ah, this is going to make me – and likely the whole of Germany – look so bad: we don’t leave anything out and never did. Before you start throwing candy canes at me, though: We celebrate on Christmas Eve and Santa doesn’t come through chimneys around here but enters through the door. Maybe he planned it this way so he’d have more room left in his stomach once he drops the gifts overseas? Which would make us really kind for not tempting him, don’t you agree?!

Do you prefer to shop online or at the mall?
If I had it my way – and that’s how we did it in recent years – I’d enjoy a whole afternoon out with my mum buying presents. Now that I’ll have to go on the five hour journey home via train I had to go the easy route of ordering online and having the packages delivered to my parents’ house.  It takes away from the cheery holiday spirit completely, though. 😦

Christmas card

Christmas letter or Christmas card?
We largely stopped sending cards years ago and while I pondered sending out a few letters this year time ran away from me. I’d rather write surprise letters throughout the year [remind me to start again!], though, when I have more time to dedicate to every single one.

Happiness-inducing today: The helpfulness of my boss. I know what you’re thinking … but hear me out: she’s been really helpful and even lending an ear when I needed it for some decisions I’m currently making. Plus you know none of my colleagues reads the blog so I’m just being honest here because it truly made my day.

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Your turn: Answer as many of the questions as you’d like yourself!

And: Should I buy “Love, Actually” on DVD??

The one question to ask when reading “healthy” advice

Inspiration for posts strikes me in the most random moments. Mostly when I’m doing something that’s already part of my daily life and never got my mind churning with new ideas before. Especially appreciated at times when I’ve sensed writer’s block coming up and got frustrated feeling like I will never ever find a topic again. Yes, it happens. Like I said: frustrating. Anyway, enough of that all because we’re all busy bees and you’ve stopped by to hear me thinking out loud not ramble on about blogger woes.

Thinking-Out-Loud

Back to where I found my topic, though: it was when perusing my Bloglovin feed, sighing and marking about a dozen posts as read. All offering me the best ever and only advice I needed to follow to stay on track this season.  It’s not a sole Christmas holiday season phenomenon: the number of posts offering “healthy” advice is [or it feels like that] is becoming almost unmanageable.  Feeling uneasy about the abundance of Christmas treats all around? At least two dozen posts will be around to ‘help ‘ you.  Not sure if eating another spoonful of mum’s cranberry sauce necessitates an extra 5 minutes on the treadmill? Don’t worry. Detailed Instructions are just a click away.   Or maybe you’re feeling all relaxed about the festive season and have been looking forward to grandma’s special cookies for months? You better believe there are enough articles out there to lecture and scare you away from the cookie tray in an instant.

Grandma's cookies

It might sound a smidgen dramatic but trust me: some of the articles that found their way into my Bloglovin’ feed lately were pretty shocking. Whether you’ve ever dealt with an ED or not I have a feeling a few of these would be enough to “verunsichern” you, too. What I’ve been doing to keep the feelings of guilt and tendency to overthink my every move is asking one question before reading on :

Is this targeted towards me?

Yes, it’s a simple question – but I’d make a guess and say it’s an easily forgotten one. The background here: if you’re reading this post you’re very likely to either be part of the healthy living blog community or at least interested in a healthy balanced life already.  Or you might be in recovery from an eating disorder.  Either way I’m convinced that even if these posts have an eerie attraction to you  with buzzwords like “healthy”, “do’s and don’ts” or “must follow” – deep inside you know if you’re part of their target group or not.  You’re eating whole foods, exercising regularly and your doctor gives you a green light at every check-up? Then you likely don’t need any article telling you to swap the mashed potatoes for cauliflower, limit yourself to one cookie or bring your own sugar- and fat-free ones [that leave you feeling unsatisfied ] or spend an hour at the gym while your family is watching Christmas movies in the living room.

All of these articles I mentioned have – in some form or the other – made an appearance on my screen before. Even if I didn’t search for them but just saw the titles in the side bar of a website or blog I was visiting. Yet as I said: Even if Christmas season is stressing you out deep down you know if  you’re in need of that – helpful or not – advice. Like I know I shouldn’t read [or at least not follow] any advice for “100 Easy Ways to Slash Calories Every Day” or  “How To Drop Five Pounds Until Christmas“. The tricky part is that you might not even mindfully seek for these articles.  Any kind of advice like that can pop up on a blog you probably started reading for that one great article about staying fit while working a desk job or for a great recipe. And then suddenly that trustworthy source tells you about the need to ditch the cookies.

Please notice I’m not judging any blogger or website for publishing these posts neither am I saying anybody who’s generally health-conscious should ditch any thoughts on nutrition or exercise and gorge themselves on all the treats and holiday roast. But chances are even giving yourself full permission you won’t because working out and eating nutritious food makes you happy and you’ll balance it all out.   There are people who are  for and find these articles helpful. But on the other hand there are many – like recoverers, people just starting out to try and live a little healthier, unsure about whether or not treats are included in a balanced diet [they are!] – that can be unsettled in their ways by this.

Christmas 2012 1

Don’t we all want to enjoy the holidays?  I remember many past Christmas days that I spent thinking about food the whole time while trying to eat the least amounts possible [a single potato? I’m sorry but … yes] and beating myself up about a lack of exercise. This is the season for tinsel,  kitschy decorations, cookie scent wafting through kitchens, listening to Michael Bublé on repeat  – but not for feeling guilty and second-guessing our every move or bite.

Now excuse me as I go spend some cozy time with Mr. Bublé.

Happiness inducing today: Did I mention Mr. Bublé yet 😉 ?? Even though he doesn’t fully get me into the Christmas spirit he’s pretty good at trying and making me sing along.

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Share whichever thoughts you have on the topic.  Possible ideas but by no means limited to:

Do you weigh up whether a post is geared towards you?

How do you feel about “healthy” holiday advice?

Has an article ever made you feel insecure about your intuitive choices?

Cozy comfort food and Christmas cookies

Look who’s back with the second What I ate Wednesday and Vegan Wednesday in a row? That’s not usual for me anymore these days and I won’t make any promises of keeping up the [good] habit every week.  This time, however,  I was rolling with it for the fact I was rolling dough that turned into a share-worthy outcome on the weekend and have been eating some delicious lunches as well. Actually, we’re not just talking about the second consecutive WIAW but also the second time I tried a few new recipes from other bloggers.

wiaw fall into good habits button

 

I might like my apartment but the lighting situation is breaking my blogger heart. It’s not like I was sitting in darkness – even if the food pictures make it seem like that – but somehow there’s no space to apptly position my food -and- get a good picture. Either way, this Cauliflower Potato Kale Casserole is too good not to mention it. By now it’s pretty much unneccessary to say I tinkered the recipe to my liking.  Out went the leeks I didn’t have on hand, in went mushrooms and – surprise! – chickpeas.  I also subbed the vegan butter for coconut oil and oooh my. I never want to eat mashed potatoes without this again. Best ever vegan mash I’ve eaten so far. Try it – you can thank me later ! And we also cannot forget about the crispy fried shallots. I’m pretty sure I made some inappropriate noises while eating this.

Cauliflower Potato Kale Casserole_vegan_theveganpact

Following up one casserolw with another? Boring. How about a little guessing game? After finally ringing in the Christmas bakery fun for this season last week I went with another relaxing – yes, I find it to be oddly relaxing – little baking action this weekend. Any guess on what these delicious plump little dough balls became?? Scrolling down doesn’t count but you might want to take a look into a certain recent post

Cookie dough ball_Christmas

Participating in Elf for Health this year it was our challenge to meal prep for the week.  I’ve already been doing that to some extent since moving here but made the extra effort to try some new meals.  And cook a different grain to last me for the week. I’m pretty obsessed with it after its first appearance in my life in months so fingers crossed I’ll actually have some left later in the week. .. Wondering about that mysterious grain?  Short grain brown rice! Probably not exciting to you but it clearly was for me after it took a considerable amount of searching. Believe it or not but unlike where I lived before it’s super hard to find here. I layered it casserole-style with my rendition of Hannah’s vegan hash .

Brown rice_casserole_vegan hash

Marmorkipferl. Like every country Germany has its specific Christmas cookie classics and Vanillekipferl are high on top of that list. While my grandma and mum have been making these every year I’d never tried my hand at them before.  If you saw my recent good good links you’ll probably  [or not if you don’t speak German] remember the recipe for vegan Marmorkipferl on the list. As much as I like classics I’m a fan of new adaptions. Especially if it includes getting to eat chocolatey dough they’re looking even prettier than the original.

Kipferl_Marmorkipferl_Christmas cookies

If you haven’t been baking any cookies this season yet I highly recommend starting. Kneading the dough [it’s called baking therapy for a reason], singing along the Christmas music playing [a neccessity] and spreading the love/cookies are part of what really makes this season. What are you waiting for?!

Happiness-inducing today: Getting a compliment for my outfit at work – new boots included – and feeling good. Despite the cold. I.can’t. stand.it.

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Christmas cookies: Do you stick with the classics or look for new ideas every year?

Share the link of  your favourite seasonal cookie recipe in the comments – vegan preferred but no must!

Christmas, actually

Talk about a late Christmas recap. What can I say? Does spending an all-around family weekend with nerve-wracking yahtzee thrillers [we’re addicted] and the equally fraught task of preparing a Strudel for dinner count as an excuse 😉 ? If not you’ll have to trust me I intentionally waited until today [truth!] because what could be a more amazing topic to talk about on this wonderful Marvelous in my Monday than Christmas? See, you can’t argue with that. Thanks to Katie for hosting us all throughout the year!

MiMM_new

The post title? That’s because, well, this post is all about our Christmas celebration and it’s hard to believe it is actually over again already. Way too early once more. Additionally, this year’s Christmas was unusual in a way. If I’d filled in the survey after  this year’s celebration my answers might have been slightly different. More on that in a second. And the title may or may not also show my fondness of a certain Christmas movie once more.

Advent wreath_grandma

We’re going backwards in this post saving the gifts for last [not judging you if you’re too curious scrolling right down to the end – or at least not much]. Because while our main celebration always is on Christmas Eve most family activites happen on the 25th when all relatives on my mum’s side come over to my grandparents’ house.

Golden_angel

By far one of my favourite parts of Christmas and every of our family gatherings at my grandparents’, actually, is our family walk along the beach. Yes, we’re those folks who bundle up and brave the weather for a walk under any circumstances. It’s been a tradition for as long as I can think and no visit at my relatives’ would be complete without the whole family bonding and chatting on those walks. The calmth of the sea. Unplugged and also elsewise distraction-free catch-up time with cousins, aunts, uncles.

Christm._walk

While we get to see and talk to each other all day long it’s during those walks that conversations really spark and get deeper. I hadn’t seen one of my cousins who moved to Austria for her studies in months so we were in dire need of catching up on each other’s lives. No better way to do so than while trudging through the sand, wind dishevelling our hair and watching the steady lively motion of the waves [can you tell I’m pretty fond of nature?]. Does anybody else feel conversations to be much more inspired when moving outside while talking? Maybe it’s the fresh breeze enlivening ourselves in the whole and sparking

Christmas beach walk

Next up on our regular schedule: cookies. And, oh well, let’s not forget about Torte [yes, I know it’s just called cake, too, but the German word implies so much more for me 🙂 ], Stollen and more cake. My grandma is going all out to make sure everyone’s experiencing a sugar coma ;).

Cookies_at_grandmas

Also one of the marvelous parts of Christmas? Many hugs by my grandpa. They’ve become even more precious to me after a health scare on his side several years ago. One moment can change the meaning of something as simple as a hug altogether. Maybe it’s sappy to say but family truly is the biggest blessing we get in life and while my Christmas had its annoyances and little flaws, too, I’m thankful for every moment I got to spend with my grandpa – and all other relatives. He’s the world’s best hugger – or at least the best known to me and that’s kind of the same thing, right ;)?!

Two of the changes I mentioned above was that my sister and I didn’t get to decorate the Christmas tree this year and – major break with the family traditions! – we didn’t throw the dice to determine who was allowed to unwrap a gift next. Here’s to hoping we’ll get back to it next year.

Christmas Tree 2013

Weihnachtsgeschenke

Does anybody else marvel at the fact that the older we get the less important the gifts under the tree become? Just thinking of how excited I was writing my wish lists weeks in advance and hardly being able to sleep the night before Christmas Eve makes me smile. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy receiving and especially giving gifts – but the additional sleep is much appreciated :). This year I hadn’t asked for any specific gifts which happened to be marvelous because I was even more surprised by every present I received. Not playing favourites but one of the most amazing presents this year would be …

PJ pants

PJ pants! And not just any: My mum knew I’d been unsuccessfully looking for new ones for a while and decided to sew me a pair shortly before Christmas Eve. Can you tell she knows me so well [colour and dots]? Just like her and my sister are quite the talented seamstresses meaning both of them bestowed not only me but every family member with their own handiwork. When transferring the pictures from my camera to my laptop I noticed I actually hadn’t taken any pictures of my presents on Christmas Eve 😯 – and hardly any pictures at all. We were clearly too busy fooling around and wearing hilarious santa hats ;). That’s why I hope you won’t mind a few quickly snapped pictures from today once more featuring the PJ pants in all their glory [thanks, mum]. All I can say is I felt spoiled – and happy my presents were well received, too. Especially since my dad truly approved of his gift, too – a huge relief.

Presents

Unsual also due to the fact it was just seven of us celebrating on Christmas Eve it was a special Christmas nonetheless. Borrowing a term by Kierston I can honestly say my heart was full. Filled with gratitude and love for all the memories made and family bonding time.

Happy last Monday of 2013!

Happiness inducing today: Watching my family’s delight and excitement when playing Yatzhzee – I love that crazy bunch of people.

What was one of your favourite gifts to give and receive this year?

Did you gift any homemade presents? I had the best intentions but ended up going the store-bought route once more. Just wait for it once the next birthday comes up, though :). I’m still taking recommendations for any occasion!

Who’s the best hugger in your family?

Good good links #19

Can you believe it’s the last Sunday in 2013 already? Not to sound like an old lady but where did time go? I’d be dishing up all kinds of clichée sentences if I tried to whine about the year passing by at lighting speed but just let me tell you I do feel that way. Now that I got that off my chest: It’s also the last time I’m sharing some of my favourite posts in 2013. Not like there weren’t awesome posts every week but I somehow felt like everybody was sharing an additional lot of great posts during this last full week of the year. So the links below are just a fraction of all inspiring, helpful, hilarious and delicious posts I noticed this week. Enjoy and let me know any I might have missed!

Candles_December

However you choose to to spend this last Sunday of the year I hope it’s a great one for you.

Happy Sunday!

Good good [food for thought]

The Day After Christmas: A Lament via Goins, Writer

Summing up the post-Christmas blues feelings many of us [apparently] are experiencing precisely. What is it that we expect from Christmas, really?

Resolutions Are Not Just For the New Year via Catching my Breath

Why wait until January 1st to commit to new goals?

Good good [advice and inspiration]

10 Small Changes Everyone Should Make Next Year via Huffington Post

Stopping to diet, getting more sleep and being kind to yourself are good ‘resolutions’ to set – not just for the new year but any given day [see previous link 🙂 ].

Avoiding post-holiday food guilt via the Real Life RD

Let feelings of gratitude replace those of guilt and weight gain worries. “Because food is just food until we let our minds convince us otherwise.”

Holiday Weight Gain (And Being OK with It!) via Your Trainer Page

It’s a good idea not to go overboard on the indulgences but a little extra holiday weight isn’t a shame, either.

Use The 80/20 Rule To Improve Your Life! Here’s How via Mind Body Green

Positive thinking, food, time management and exercise: Staying true to your goals by allowing some flexibility in all areas of life.

3 Tips for the Tech Junkie – Be Healthy and Connected via Hayley Hobson

Don’t let the desire to be connected cut off real-life connections. Unplugging can feel amazing.

Running is like via Olive to Run

Any runner will agree with this.

How To Survive The Post-Holiday Blues via Huffington Post

Setting goals, socializing and exercise can help beat the off feeling after the holidays.

68 Mostly Free Ways to Entertain Yourself at Home via Savvy Sugar

For those boring [Sun]days when nobody is around.

Customizable Instragram calendar via going home to roost

Christmas might be over but this is a cute gift idea for any occasion.

How to Use a Lemon to Clean Stained Food Containers via Real Simple

Remember my mention of squash-stained Tupperware? I know I’ll definitely give this one a try.

Good good [things to make you smile]

20 New Year’s Resolutions For The Foodie via HuffPost Food

Is the Instagram diet on your list of resolutions already 😉 ?

Because Sometimes Tweets About Body Image Can Be Funny via POPSUGAR

“My thighs touch because they’re still deeply in love.” – Yes to taking body woes with a grain of salt.

Victoria’s Secret Models Secret TWERK Session… Caught On Video via TMZ

I’m not usually one to share those ‘funny videos’ but I’m making an exception for my twerking friends ;).

Good good [food]

Fruit and Nut Shortbread Cookies via Prevention RD

Shortbread has never sounded this good before.

Tiramisu Cheesecake Brownies via Vegan Richa

Tiramisu. Cheesecake. Brownies. Could these get any better?

Peppermint Bark Raw Brownies via Peachy Palate

Spotting a theme? There can never be too many brownie recipes in one post and these couldn’t be more different from the first ones yet look just as spectacular.

Sage Polenta Bowls with Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Wild Mushrooms via Oh my Veggies

Elegant and featuring some of the best flavours of the season.

Vegan Spanakopita via Produce On Parade

An intriguing spin on the Greek classic.

Italian Spice Superfood Stew via Mind Body Green

She had me at “coziness, relaxation and unique textures” – a stew for the soul.