Monday, December 5, 2011

The Magic Hat

We had a fun busy weekend that felt as full as Santa's sack on Christmas Eve. I have a sneaking suspicion this post will feel that way too. Friday night hubs and I had planned to knock out a little shopping, but he called on his way home from the office and asked if I wouldn't prefer a glass of wine and a lovely Italian meal at one of our favorite restaurants instead.

Why yes...yes I think I would.

So we did. And it was fun. And not totally unproductive in that I think we do need to just stop the madness every now and then and enjoy what's right in front of us. It was a lovely evening, much lovelier than any mall or shopping center on a Friday night three weeks before Christmas could ever hope to be.

We each had a fairly long to-do list for Saturday which included baking and decorating and a trip to the hardware store and then another trip to the hardware store and maybe a third trip to the hardware store, but we also penciled in a fun midday break. Our little town has some German roots and in early December they host their own version of a German Christmas market.

Oh, it makes me so homesick for my other life. This is the first year I haven't been to a picturesque little European market since 2003. Sigh. Such happy memories of times spent with friends and daughter2. Big sigh.

Our little market makes for a pretty good substitute. We met the very lovely German woman who started the market ten years ago and she knows a thing or two about what's needed to make small town New Jersey feel like a charming German village for one weekend in December. For starters you need a beautiful setting...

add vendors manning stalls selling handmade German smokers...

lots of wonderful food, a few thousand of your nearest neighbors and of course some Christmas music to keep it all festive.

Consider this next photo my entry in the Christmas Photo Challenge for today. Our prompt was 'something warm and tasty' and stroopwafels definitely qualify.

If you've never tried one you must...they're a Dutch treat, waffles made from thin layers of batter with a caramel-like filling.

Set one atop your steaming cup of coffee and the center gets gooey and even more delicious. Know what else is delicious?

Gluwein in a specially designed mug...this is key if you want your market experience to be authentic.

And now I must say a word about the hat. I jokingly call it the magic hat because whenever hubs wears it we make new friends. It's like a magnet. As we made our way thru the crowds he was stopped over and over and over again and asked about his hat. No less than five people took his picture. Several were German and they told us about their childhood homes across the sea and how it came to be that they were eating bratwurst and sipping German beer in the New Jersey countryside.

Hey, even Santa needed a closer look...

The hat is special. It was purchased several years ago in a teeny tiny town in the Austrian Alps, this one in fact-

The wonderful little shopkeeper insisted he take the edelweiss pin to make the hat complete and so it began. He started adding a pin most everywhere he traveled and now that hat is chock-a-block full of flags and emblems and memories. A very special keepsake.

Is this post long? Sorry. I told you our weekend was full. Besides all of the above and a whole lot of decorating in between we also managed to squeeze in two parties, one on Saturday night and another on Sunday afternoon. The Sunday afternoon gathering is an annual event held at the home of hubs former boss.

She and her husband raise money for a local food bank at this event and its possible her hubs walked a llama thru their gorgeous family room. He and my hubs are like two peas in a pod. Not literally of course because her hubs is uber-uber tall, but in spirit? They are so kindred.

Thus concludes the weekend. You are welcome.


  1. I was with you right up to the llama. There must be a story behind this, or maybe llamas are an East Coast holiday custom of which I was unaware.

  2. I want to pet it! How cool is that!
    I think it's cool that such a simple thing as a hat can create such a fuss!
    And I love your line "as full as Santa's sack on Christmas Eve." :)
    Have a wonderful day!

  3. A Christmas llama? You've got me on this one. LOL I've been to a German Market but never seen a Christmas Llama. Love it!!

  4. Though there are easily a dozen Weinachtsmärkte within a short drive of me, your post made me homesick for Sparta!!

  5. Llama? There MUST be more to that story ... and of course, I couldn't help but wonder/worry if that llama were housebroken?? ;-)

    You definitely had a BUSY weekend! And I have to say that I, too, would take a glass of wine and a lovely Italian meal over shopping any day! (Which reminds me ... we're going to have a glass of wine and a lovely Italian meal with friends tomorrow evening on The Hill in St. Louis - yummy!)

  6. Oh, how I'd love to visit Germany one day! My husband has been there and said it would be right up my alley. I'm a huge lover of beautiful scenery. A magic hat, huh? I want one! :)

  7. Love your weekend memories. That German Festival looks like it woul be so much fun. We have an apple fest in our town each year and they have llamas or alpacas there. I've seen pictures where they were brought into the hallway at work. In fact, I was actually there the first time they were brought in. They have such beautiful eyes. So cool.

  8. Joyce? You have the most fun life of anyone. Anywhere. Just thought you should know.

  9. What a great weekend! I keep saying I am going to go back to Germany for a Christmas Market, but well, with Hubby and the four dogs, I get pretty busy.
    Wish there was one close by!
    Love Llamas. My friend raises them!

  10. Wow, talk about busy. And... a llama?

    Oh, I love Christmas markets! London is overflowing with them at the moment.

  11. WOW!!

    Blessings and prayers,

  12. I have some SERIOUS Heimweh (homesickness!) for Germany now!!!! How blessed you are to have this markt so close to you!! As a child, we lived in the DC area -and had the closest German festival type place near us (Blobs Park, Jessup, MD) - so perhaps one must be closer to the Atlantic for this privilege?! :) There were some German settler here in Missouri - and we do have some vineyards near but it isn't quite the same as what you've shown. *Sigh* We ARE planning a trip to Germany in March - but it won't have that Christkind Markt flair then!

  13. I love the hat. It reminds me of the 5 weeks I spent in Kirchberg, Austria when I was 20 (a couple years ago. lol) Thanks for sharing your busy and exciting weekend.

  14. Every summer there is a german festival at Kutztown University that we go to. I would love to see a german Christmas market. It looked fabulous!

  15. Perfect weekend....omg I miss the German Markets....really makes Christmas! How nice to find a little one in NJ! lOve it! And a llama at a party wow...we live behind a llama farm.
    Happy Monday!

  16. I love this post and NO it's not too long! It's just perfect! Love the hats and the German festivities along with your Warm and Toasty photo challenge picture! The best part, the llama! I think they are so beautiful but I would have to stop at bringing them inside no matter how cute!

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  17. great hat on my on that animal being in the house..

  18. Shew! I'm tired and need a break just from reading about your weekend! Love Hubs' hat!

  19. Llama-where is the rest of the story?
    I like Tim's hat!! Wine and a meal instead of shopping-my kind of treat!

  20. Wow, what a busy weekend! Love your hub's hat--and his ex-boss's llama! I'd love to hear the story behind that photo! LOL

  21. My goodness, you are one busy woman and always seem to have such fun in everything you do.

    The market sounded like so much fun and I would have stopped your Hubs and asked for a pic too. :o)

    I may miss Hodgepodge this week as Hubby and I are going on an overnight trip today and I likely won't have time for blogging. Shucks!

    Blessings my friend!

  22. A llama through the house! Now that sounds exciting. What a cute German Christmas market.
    Looks like that was fun and I love the hat! The food looks yummy too. I would say you had a very busy weekend.