Prepping for Christmas

We’re officially past mid-November so it’s officially ok to listen to Christmas music, bake Christmas things and buy Christmas stuff. Everyone knows these are the official rules from the official guidebook.

So say hello to these guys:

Aren’t they ADORABLE? They’re Christmas tree ornaments and will go up on my parents’ tree this Christmas (since I will spend Christmas with them and won’t have my own tree).

My parents left early for some shopping in a neighboring city this morning while I slept in late. My brother and I ended up spontaneously deciding to join them and drove out there as well, and- it turned out to be so lovely. So gloriously unplanned and relaxed. It was cold today, a real winter day, and by the time we got there the sun was already hanging low, making for some beautiful light in the small shopping streets. It reminded me so much of Gothenburg – not sure why that specific city, and not any other Swedish town – and I loved it. My mom tried on coats and I bought the ornaments and we looked at snow globes. (Why am I not collecting snow globes yet? I should. It would help me get through the 10 dreadful months of the year that we don’t see any snow here. It would also cement my Weird Nerd Lady status.)

My mom and I also baked a Gundulakranz when we got home – recipe to come tomorrow, if I can stick to my blogging plans for once – which bookended our family centered Saturday perfectly.

With my mom


I spent today with my mom, who had taken the day off work so we could hang out. We drove to the big city nearby, and just did whatever we felt like at any given moment. Stopped at H&M to try on flannel shirts and pullovers. Had caramel lattes at Starbucks. Looked at cutesy winter decoration stuff in small stores that smelled like Christmas and played modern jazz. And yes, I did in fact seek out the men’s fragrances section at a large department store in the hopes of spotting Alexander Skarsgård in his Calvin Klein ads, WHAT OF IT? I just needed to smell that Encounter fragrance once. Once. And take home a flyer with his face on it because they had them and I could. SHUT UP AND GO ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS, EVERYONE.

I also bought a Stutenkerl (bottom left photo). It’s a traditional pastry sold at bakeries this time of year. I don’t know the story behind them but they remind me of my childhood and they are delicious, so there. Sweetest part of the day, though? Looking in those dressing room mirrors and being genuinely content with what I saw. Most delightful reward for months and months of hard work.

Stream of consciousness II

I run into Santa at a stop light. An actual (crazy) person dressed as Santa casually meandering about the neighborhood. I decide I like that dude. I also decide this is a sign that it’s finally okay to start playing Coldplay’s “Christmas Lights”.

***

I go see yesterday’s hipster girl for my hair cut and I tell her what I want, and she says that cut would look awful with my body size. She says size and not type, and I notice. I look at our bodies in the mirror, her much slimmer one next to mine, and I feel a lump in my throat and a knot in my stomach. She says the cut I want is so out of style and that I don’t strike her as the kind of girl who visits the hair dresser often. I hate that her comments get to me. When she asks me what I do and how old I am, I lie. I hate that, too.

The cut is 36 euros and I walk away with almost the exact same hair and an awful feeling. Thanks for nothing, hipster girl.

***

The roommate and I go to the mall. She needs new bras, I need a reason to leave the house. Some Christmas decorations are already up but they’re not lit yet and just look sad. There are seven different shoe stores and we go to them all. I remember why I hate shopping with others. I’m too impatient. We browse Christmas stuff and buy lights for our hallway and a reindeer for our kitchen window. It feels nice: to invest in the coziness of our home. We stop to sit down for some coffee and look out at Köln-Kalk in the dark. Head lights in one direction, break lights in the other. People in between; pushing strollers, riding bikes, dragging suitcases. And the moonlit clouds above it all. The roommate orders a Belgian waffle which turns out to be huge so I have a few bites. I don’t enjoy it.

I don’t enjoy much of anything these days, and it worries me. I’m not myself. Everything is sad and lonely and complicated and serious.

***

I buy a train ticket home for next Tuesday. They have a special offer for a high speed train on my connection; I can’t pass that up. Home in an hour and forty-seven minutes. 215 kilometers in less than an album’s worth of music. My mom is hosting a fancy seafood dinner and I want to be there for that. “You’re always welcome”, she emphasizes. “Come home.”

Yes. I think I need to.

So here’s something you never thought would one day prove essential: tiny plastic bottles for tiny amounts of fluid to carry in a tiny bag allowed to be put in the tiny overhead compartments of tiny planes that fly you across tiny Europe for a tiny amount of money.

I’ve wanted something like this forever but couldn’t find a cheap and practical product anywhere. I then saw these at chain store HEMA in the Netherlands during my last visit and couldn’t pass them up for just €2,99. They came with ZipLoc bags and some labels, too! They won’t last a lifetime but I’m glad I got them, seeing as I can put them to use much earlier than expected: when RyanAir will once again fly me up to Sweden next weekend and grant me just-so-many milliliters of anything on board the plane!

A day (of shopping) in Holland

I went to Enschede today which is a Dutch city that sits right at the border to Germany. My parents go there about once a month. We often eat at La Place which is a chain usually located in the large Dutch department store V&D. They have lovely fresh food, and their blackberry tea is amazing so of course I had it today. We walked around the big farmer’s market on the central square for a bit, and then my parents went their way while I hit the stores.

Remember how my goal for the summer was to just look good in a simple white tshirt? Well, I finally bought the tshirt at H&M today. Step one: complete. Step two: er, on hold? I really need to start working out. — I also bought Rituals “Yin Organic White Lotus & Yi Yi Ren” body mist. I KNOW that just made you throw up. I hate these pretentious names of bath and beauty products as well but whatevs, it smells delightful. I also found new sunglasses (super cheap ones from H&M again) and a cute necklace that has a guitar pendant. Granted, that sounds a little ridiculous but just wait, I’ll post pictures at some point and YOU WILL SEE, YOU’LL ALL SEE! (Phoebe on Friends, anyone? No?) And then I just got some random stuff, like a headband, and tiny containers for shampoo and whatnot that you’re allowed to take on a plane in your carry-on luggage (within the EU). I’d been looking for these forever and could never find them here in Germany.

We always bring home food and pastries from our trips to Enschede as well because it’s obviously a little different from what we can get here and, well, better. And more affordable. I dread spending half of tomorrow on the road again when I’m driving back to Cologne but shopping made me happy today which counts as a huge success because it normally just makes me tired and aggressive.


I went to Ikea on Saturday morning because they had small rugs like the one above on sale. I got a black and a white one. They work so well with my wooden floors and make my bedroom much cozier!

[ Ikea HAMPEN rug – available in black, white, green, blue, red, yellow, purple – only € 3,33 on sale ]