Monday, June 30, 2008

old meersburg castle

So remember my birthday last week? I promised to get back to that old castle in beautiful old Meersburg on Lake Constance. And it is very worth getting back to!

The little town of Meersburg was originally built up around this very old castle overlooking the huge lake. It was built in 628 by the king of the Franks then, by 1268, occupied by the bishops of Constance until the mid-18th century when they built the more comfortable New Castle in Meersburg. In the early 19th century the Old Castle was then occupied by Baron Joseph von Lassberg. All the rooms come from different parts of its long history...

But my favorite part of the castle, and the thing that made me so curious to visit it, were the three rooms that were once lived in by the famed and important German poetess Annette von Droste-Hülshoff.

Annette was very sickly in her later years and her brother-in-law, who was the Baron Joseph von Lassberg, invited her to live in the castle on the lake (which was a popular place for the sick to regain their health). She eventually died there on the lake in the castle in this room and in this very bed...

...on 24 May 1848. Her rooms were more or less just as she left them and there was a display of her poetry and a few drawings done of her and of the castle as she lived there.

But although the lake was beautiful, her rooms comfortable (not the cold stone rooms of other older areas of the castle), and the pretty little castle garden was just outside her door, she was apparently never very happy there. She wrote a poem while she lived there called "The Old Castle" where she says

Schreit' ich über die Terrasse
Wie ein Geist am Runenstein,...
Ist mir selber oft nicht deutlich,
Ob ich lebend, ob begraben!

I tread over the terrace
Like a spirit on the rune stones,...
It is often not clear to me,
If I live, or if I'm buried!

The castle was so romantic! We walked through rooms 1400 years old and many gradually added in later centuries, seeing evidence of all the castle's inhabitants: the weapons tower, the bishops' chapel, the dungeon that had old graffiti from its prisoners, and, of course, the death bed of a poetess.

I am looking forward to going back again and spending more time in Meersburg and its old romantic castle and getting inspired by it's stone halls and the spirits of Frank kings, old bishops, and perhaps Annette's crying spirit will act as my muse and I can write my own poem or two! It was just that kind of place!

Friday, June 27, 2008

favorite shop friday: treehouse28

After coveting the adorable kids clothes from last week's feature, I decided I better feature something for us big girls...and I have found the incredibly chic, modern, and oh-so-comfortable-looking clothes of Treehouse28!

Alix designs and then hand-makes all of her pieces from scratch. Each piece is custom-made in your sizes and chosen colors. Her goal to make women's clothing with a passion for uniqueness, beauty, simplicity and comfort is evident in every piece!

I love these clothes...I'm thinking I'm going to have to chuck my old wardrobe so I can feel constantly beautiful and comfortable in my new Treehouse28 wardrobe!

You can start your own Treehouse28 wardrobe at

Thursday, June 26, 2008

euro 2008

Germany is happy today!

I don't follow sports. I don't care about sports. My husband and I like to go to the occasional live baseball game (especially with my family) but other than that, sports have absolutely no hold on our interest or care.

But when you live in Europe you kind of have to be at least aware of football (and by football, I mean soccer for all you Yankees). My husband and I have noticed that although many many sports are enjoyed on this continent only one is taken seriously. Very, very seriously.

Coming from America as I do I have of course seen sports taken very seriously and enthusiastically. I was in Houston when the Rockets won their basketball championship years ago and watched that city go Rocket-crazy. And this soccer tournament reminds me of that...expect it's not just a city, but the entire nation. No, actually, it's the entire continent. And I really don't think Americans understand the passion that Europeans have for soccer.

So, for those of you not currently living in Europe, the Euro 2008 Football Championship is going on right now. And it's a very big deal.

I had no idea this tournament was coming up...until I started seeing German flags everywhere: hanging off balconies, in shops and restaurants, and every second car on the road has flags waving from it. And not just German flags, but flags for every competing nation.

And I realized the games had started to be played when I noticed big flat-screen TVs hanging in department stores and restaurants showing the games and also when the train conductor got onto the loudspeaker during a trip I made to Karlsruhe telling travelers the current score of some game going on.

And then my husband started watching the tail end of the games so he wouldn't be clueless going into work the next day where everyone was talking about the tournament.

On Sunday we were traveling up to Karlsruhe on an early train which is usually pretty empty but this early Sunday it was packed with exhausted, dejected Hollanders on their way home from begin defeated by Russia at the previous night's game in Basel, Switzerland. As we got off the train, a group of Hollanders in their orange football jerseys and scarfs and hats wondered through the train station and got pity comments from most of the Germans they passed.

But Germany isn't so sad...not yet. Last night they won their place in the final match!

Now, a lot of Germans will stay home and watch these matches on TV, but many will go out to watch the match together. Towns and cities will set up public viewing fact, last night in Berlin half a million Berliners watched the semi-final game against Turkey in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

And I rode my bike down empty streets out to Bühl's Johannesplatz to catch a bit of the game and act the part of an interested anthropologist to study this cultural aspect of being a European.

Johannesplatz is a central square in the town's old city center surrounded by Italian ice cream cafes, bistros, and restaurants. Every business in the square had a big TV or two or three hanging outside and there were hundreds and hundreds of people there to watching the game.

Some of the hundreds at Johannesplatz last night...

Tooooor!! (Germany scores!)...

Now, the thing about this game is that Germany was playing against Turkey and there is a big Turk population in Germany. After arriving to the square I noticed that most of the Turkey fans were crowded in one third of the square while most of the Germany fans took up the rest. It was interesting to watch the two sides of the square react as first Turkey scored a goal and then Germany scored a goal. And then I went home to Karl to watch Germany win the game with a literal last minute goal.

So today Germany is a happy place and I'm curious how crazy things are going to get this Sunday with the finals!

Turkey is sad...

Germany is happy...

Even Angie is happy! (Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, at last night's game)...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

my birthday

Monday was my birthday! And Karl took the whole day off work to be with me!

We left first thing in the morning after a yummy breakfast at my favorite bakery to take a train south to Bodensee (or Lake Constance as it's called in English) and we spend the entire day there along the big beauitful lake.

The train ride was so took us through the mountains and trees and towns of the Black Forest.

The lake itself is very big. It borders Germany, Switzerland and Austria and as you stand on the German shores you can just make out the Alps in the hazy distance.

We had lunch in the town of Friedrichshafen then took a bus to the town of Meersburg, which is one of those little European towns that never did well economically so it never changed. It was such a pretty place!

We visited the Old Castle of Meersburg while we were there...and which was the reason I wanted to go down to the lake in the first place...but that was so neat that I'll save photos from that until another time!

Turning a year older wasn't so bad!

Friday, June 20, 2008

favorite shop friday: kinchi

I have decided to go out and get my self a daughter because I must have someone in my life wearing this....

A kitty skirt!! In fact, I insist that all parents of darling little girls in the world stop what they are doing and go to this wonderful shop, kinchi, and get a kitty skirt for their little darling because I firmly believe that we will acheive world peace if we could all see sweet little girls skipping around in adorable kitty skirts! How can anything bad happen in a world filled with kitty skirts?

kinchi is the creative outlet of Mirjam who creates children's wares with a hip European design. She uses recycled materials in her very fresh designs thus also help solving the world's environmental concerns. But Mirjam's mind, as she bicycles around her Dutch town of Rotterdam, thinks up more lovelies than just kitty skirts...

like warm hands pants...

tablecloth apron tops...

teatowl dresses...

and the zoological oddity, the Dragondino Snailgoose...

Her designs are so fun and she is obviously passionate about her work and I am so glad kinchi is in the world. Especially since, not only finding a solution to world peace by dressing every little girl in a kitty skirt, she also seems to have found a solution to perpetual happiness and brotherhood with this...

Puppy pants!

You'll find kinchi at and, thankfully, mama-sized designs at her other shop, kinchimama.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

barack and me

Even though we're in Europe, my husband and I have been enjoying this year's US Presidential Election. But, although I'm really interested in this year's election (and I'm still trying to figure out how to do the whole absentee ballot thing), I'm thinking maybe I should lay off the CNN for a little while. Because I dreamed last night that I was Barack Obama's girlfriend.

Yes, I was Barack Obama's girlfriend! How cool would that be? Except that it wasn't so cool. He made for kind of a dull boyfriend. His wife had left him and he wasn't sure why and he kept moaning about how he didn't understand why his wife left him. And he really wasn't so interested in his Presidential campaign anymore. But he was really interested in his digital camera and he kept taking photos of really boring landscapes and seascapes and sunsets and all he wanted to do was show me his photos on his camera and hand me big envelopes filled with his prints of dull photos.

Yes, that really was my dream. And I was very glad to wake up and find that Michelle had not left Barack (she's so much better for him than me) but I did find out that Barack does have quite a lot of digital photos out there to go through (which you'll find here)...and they are thankfully more interesting than sunsets and seascapes.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

signs 5

I spotted these signs in France. I don't know French, unfortunately...would anyone care to translate? Not this sign really needs any translating. Obviously, motorists are asked to be aware of children and children are asked to run away from any evil-eyed smirking cars on the road.

Monday, June 9, 2008

german music: wir sind helden

About a month ago a German band appeared on Conan O'Brien. Karl and I of course don't get to watch American late night television but once in a while he will download an episode or two and he just happened to download the episode where this German band appeared. The band was Tokio Hotel...and for any of my American friends, family and acquaintances who happened to see them perform on Conan...please allow me to offer my apologies.

Tokio Hotel is very popular here with 12-year-old girls. Even though the band members look like 12-year-old girls themselves, they are really 15-year-old boys pretending that they're a cool rock band. And the last thing I want any of you to think is that Tokio Hotel is a good representation of German pop music.

So I feel the need to counter Tokio Hotel's attempt to seduce American 12-year-old girls by sharing with you some truly good German pop music! I had originally thought I would share you all my favorite German bands in one post but I've since decided that these talents are worth their own individual posts so this will be a new series on my blog!

Today let me introduce you to one of my favorite German bands, Wir Sind Helden (We are Heroes): three boys and a girl named Judith Holofernes (I have no idea if that is her real name or not but I love it!) who have no reason to pretend...they make very cool music!

Here are a couple of my favorite songs: Guten Tag (Good Day)--the video is a kind of tongue-in-cheek account of their sudden rise to fame that came with this song...

...and Nur Ein Wort (Just One Word) as a very Bob Dylan-esque video...

Never mind if you can't understand the words...aren't they great fun?! But, if you are someone who still likes to understand the words...I did find this site with English translations of Wir Sind Helden lyrics. And here, by the way, is the Wir Sind Helden official website. Now go buy their albums here.

I hope you like...and if you happen to know of any other good German (or any other nationality for that matter) bands you think I should check out, let me know!

(Ok, fine...if you missed that Conan episode, here is a link to that creepy androgynous-ness that is Tokio Hotel. They normally sing in German, by the way...and don't say I didn't warn you.)

Friday, June 6, 2008

favorite shop friday: sarah ogren

Today's shop has been a favorite of mine since I first discovered Sarah Ogren is an artist with a very distinct style: a little bit dark, a little bit witty, and very much what I'd like to see on my walls!

Sarah is a mixed-media artist and her work seems to be inspired by the Victorian era and Romantic Gothic moods as she combines images of people, animals and nature. And I love the strange but pretty moodiness that results!

You can keep up her work at her blog: And, of course you can buy her wonderful work at:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

doors and windows 2

Strasbourg Cathedral, France

Speyer Cathedral, Germany

Oberweier Chapel, Germany

Titisee, Germany

Eguisheim, France

Monday, June 2, 2008

the game

a flickr self-portrait

I got this game from Chickpea Sewing Studio (who got it from Bunnybum but I'm seeing it other places, too). It was fun to play with! Sort of a Flickr self-portrait! Mine is above but you can make your own:

The concept:

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd's mosaic maker).

The Questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name

It was fun to see the kind of results the searches came up with. If you get tired of trying to figure out what my answers were by the photos then you can see the mosaic here and read the notes over the photo...but I will share with you my favorite result: No. 10. My answer is, of course, my husband Karl. When I put his name in the search the very first photo I got was for an old post office in a district of Berlin...our favorite city and the reason the two of us eventually met. Perfect!

So what do you look like on Flickr?

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