Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Finding Maternity Clothes in Germany (Umstandsmode)

As some of you may know I have recently come into the condition necessitating this endeavor.  My pregnancy book tells me that "what you wear" while you are pregnant should be one of the fun things of pregnancy, and the clothes you select should be a reflection of "you."  Apparently they never tried finding maternity clothes in Germany!!!  Or at least, I have definitely found it to be a challenge, and since this is my second, my "bump" is already crying out for stretchy waistbands...

There are only two places I have found where you can actually go into the store, browse through the racks, and actually try anything on... these are:

H&M - good for basics, tees and perhaps jeans - if you can find them in your size.  They call their line "Mama" and it usually has its own section of the floor near the plus sizes.  My experience has been that everything is pretty picked over, and the sizes are pretty limited to the high end of the range.  I also haven't found any pants which have the smaller waistband, only the kind that is designed to pull up over a large belly.  Quality is typical H&M, but the styles tend to be on the more conservative side of their assortment, and I usually prefer their trendy stuff.  H&M does not have their full assortment online, and unfortunately maternity clothes are not there at all - or at least as far as I have been able to find anyway.  So even if you do find the perfect pair of jeans, don't expect to order them online if you can't find your size!

C&A - Also a rather disappointing experience in my book - but again, at least you can try things on!  Prices are good and the quality reflects that.  The racks are usually a royal mess, and enough for me to turn on my heel and walk away...  but never hurts to look!

Online however is a different story... of course it's not quite as nice to have to guess your size when it is practically changing daily, but worth it for some of what I found on these sites...

www.topshop.com - my absolute favorite so far.  Cute stuff, moderate prices (don't forget to convert the Pounds to Euros or Dollars) and they offer free worldwide shipping on orders over 75 Pounds.  I was tempted to put in an order today, but I'm on a "cease and desist spending" order... and I'm willing to wait and see what cute fall stuff they have!

www.zara.com (go through to their Deutschland site) - oddly enough, they only had one item, these pair of jeans, and they were on sale, so I bought them.  They have the big belly band, but are great quality and super cute.  Shipping was cheap, and you can also opt to have them delivered to the store for free, and they also accept returns at the store. To find them I typed "maternity" into their search box... so not sure if they only carry jeans, or maybe they are phasing in or out maternity wear, I don't know!  But worth checking if you like Zara like I do!

www.vertbaudet.de - I've listed this site before as a great place to get kids clothes, and their maternity clothing selection is pretty good, too.  Shipping is only 2.95, and they let you place your order and pay the bill once the goods arrive.  SO if you don't like the item you can always opt to send them back.  Prices are good, but will have to wit until my order arrive to report on quality!

Since I haven't actually ordered from the rest, I won't go into detail on what they offer, but here are all of the other sites that I found - and as always if you know of any others, please let me know so that I can share!

www.bodendirect.de - Under "Damen" select "Umstandsmode"
www.3suisses.de - Under "Damen" select "Mode fur Schwangere"
www.baby-walz.de - Under "Mode fur Mama und Kind" select "Umstandsmode"
www.mamarella.com - Under "Mama" select "Umstandsmode"
www.mia-nana.de - All maternity, geared towards dressy occasions like weddings, etc.
www.umstandsmode.de - higher price point, but sale stuff is great prices and looks worth it!
www.bellybutton.de - Click "Umstandsmode"
www.laredoute.de - Under "Mama & Baby" select "Umstandsmode"
www.positie-outlet.nl - really great brands like Mamalicious, Queen Mum, etc. all at outlet prices.  Dutch website, but ships to Germany for 5.95.
www.noppies.com - same great brands as above, but the newest season, and full price.  Also a Dutch website, but ships to Germany.

And last but not least - don't forget to get creative with regular sized clothing while you can!  Try getting one size up, or stretch fabrics, or a short, baby-doll or empire waist-ed dress could become a cute top for wearing with jeans!  Or throw a pair of leggings on under that tunic you just found.  Pick up a non-maternity cardigan or jacket to throw over your new favorite pregnancy tee... nobody said you have to button it!  Good luck!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Furniture Shoppping for the Picky Expat

Thanks again to Anna for writing up this post on new furniture shopping!  Looks like some good new finds!

Furniture Shopping for the Picky Expat

There are a number of things I miss about the states…chocolate chips being one crucial item…but on a larger scale, I really miss the furniture and household good selection. If you are into the Über -modern and super expensive look, then furniture shopping in Germany may suit you just fine…me…I’m more of a Pottery Barn, homey-feel junkie! It’s quite the dilemma! However, never fear there are a few options out there and some exciting new developments in US Exports to tell you about.

In the frantic search for a crib, I stumbled upon Car Möbel.
Unfortunately, their only store is in Henstedt-Ulzburg (about a 6 hour drive from the Nuremberg area), but their website has quite a bit of selection. The style is quite shabby-chic and farmhouse-ish, which I love. Here’s a quick look at some of their items.

I recently ordered the crib below and a bench for our entry way. The shipment hasn’t arrived yet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything is as pictured.

And if you just can’t seem to find what you’re looking for here…and you just NEED to buy something from one of your favorite US retailers all hope is not lost.  I’ve just discovered that a few stores such as Pottery Barn, West Elm, and Crate and Barrel are now working through a shipping service called Fifty-One to ship items into most EU countries, including Germany. If you click on this link, you will get a list of US retailers now using the Fifty One service http://www.fiftyone.com/clients.

Don’t get too excited, it’s expensive!  You have to calculate in shipping cost and then that “oh so wonderful” 20% VAT (nope…they haven’t figured out a way to bypass that yet). However, sometimes desperate situations call for desperate measures…for example when you’re nesting pregnant woman and only this nursery bedding from Pottery Barn Kids will do:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Annafest in Forcheim

In celebration of the feast day of St Anne (the mother of the Virgin Mary) the Annafest is a ten daylong beerfest, which expects an attendance of 400,00-500,000 people over these ten days. Held in the Kellerwald, a hilly forest with beer cellars running through it, not far from the centre of Forchheim, it starts on Saturday with the official opening of Kellerwald happening around 4pm with the Mayor tapping the first barrel. 23 kellers (7 open year round), music, food and amusements for all the family. The local breweries all brew the Annafestbier, a strong Bock beer especially for the festival.

More details can be found here http://www.forchheim.de/node/841 in English and German.
Thanks Nathalie for the post!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

“It’s trash day: A cultural comparison”

A big thanks to Rebecca Weber for contributing this fun tidbit on Trash Day here in Germany!  We recently enjoyed Rebecca's knowledge at our latest HENhaus quarterly meeting (click HERE to see pictures,) and she continues to impress me with her knowledge of German culture, and her compelling ability to comically compare it with our own!  Thanks Rebecca!

“It’s trash day: A cultural comparison”

 “It’s trash day”.  The meaning behind these three words (4 if you’re a stickler) sum up the ocean of difference between American and German culture.

In America, “trash day” usually refers to the one day a week that the trash is picked up.  One simply has to roll the trash can, with its bags of trash (i.e. “anything you don’t want to keep”), down to the end of the driveway.  Of course, nowadays one has the choice of recycling newspapers, so there might be an extra bin for those.  Over and done with – it requires almost no thought really.

 Ordnung (“order”) is a hallmark of German culture, and is even apparent  in the way trash is handled.  It reminds me of an old Saturday Night Live skit… In Germany, the word Mull (“trash”) is kind of like the Eskimo word for snow – there are, like, 250 words for snow in the Eskimo language, right?  Well, the same applies in Germany to the word for trash. There are about 5 different categories of trash, divided into subcategories, adding up to at least 9 total categories.   There is Papiermull (“paper trash”), Biomull (“organic waste”), and Restmüll (everything not covered by the first two, but not including glass, metal, or dangerous trash like batteries - oh – and it doesn’t include things like old broken down electronics). 

I have been living in Germany for 9 years now and am finally getting the hang of it.  I am proud.  Evidently instruction in the proper disposal of trash starts early in Germany - my daughter just told me that a teacher recently spent an entire classroom hour expounding on just this subject.  In religion…

Case in point:
“Trash day” in our household in Germany goes something like this.  My German husband says, “I think they pick up the trash on Wednesday.”  I, not exactly drawn in to the conversation, continue washing the dishes or doing facebook or whatever, mumbling “Mmmm”. Big deal, right? Observe:

Cultural difference #1: Germans are significantly more environmentally aware than Americans. 

Cultural difference #2: There is an attention to and desire for intricate systems in German culture, whereas in America, “the simpler the better” is the motto.

Cultural difference #3: Planning, planning, planning is the key in Germany. 

My husband consults “the book” (not to be confused with the Bible, but more often consulted).  “The book” tells us when and which trash will be picked up.  In America the trash (all trash) is picked up, well, let’s say..on “WEDNESDAYS”.  In Germany there are different dates (different each month) scheduled  for the major 4 kinds of trash.  On a good week, my husband only has to remember to put out the trash on the night before the appointed day.  On a so-so week, the trash might be getting dangerously full days before the pick up.  In which case my husband makes daily comments about if all our trash will fit, or if we will have to sneak some of our trash into the neighbors can.  One of the benefits of friendship in Germany is being close enough friends to share trash cans.   If, despite all efforts, we have more trash than cans, we either have to find alternative storage ideas, or, in the case of organic trash – simply not do any gardening. 

At the end of November I decided to throw out my Fall pumpkin doorstep decorations in order to make room for Christmas arrangements.  The pumpkins and leaves were definitely past their time.  As I carried them out to the trash can, my husband looked and said, “nope”.  I said, “whadaya mean, “nope”?” He said again, “No.  No space. You can’t throw them out”.  I was shocked and asked why.  He explained to me for the 100th time (it just doesn’t register with me!) that the organic trash was full.  I said, “Yeah, so?” And he said, “You have to wait two weeks now” (organic trash is picked up every week in summer, every 2 weeks at other times of the year).  Well, there was no way in trashdom that I was going to keep those nasty gourds on my step for a minute longer, much less 2 weeks!  I had to find a bucket out back to throw them in, which we had to empty into the trash can after it was picked up.  Which of course made it fill up sooner and the cycle of torment just continued.
The opposite could happen – our trash can could be half empty , in which case my husband starts to look for things to throw away – on the premise that we may not be so lucky next time, so we have to think ahead.  At these times, the kids and I keep locks on our doors.  Many a time has a favorite toy ended up in the bin.  (He has enough conscience to deny this when confronted however…)

Cultural difference #3 continued: If proper planning is followed, mistakes and “forgetting” are avoided. It is as simple as that.

Case in point:
On a very bad week – and this has thankfully only happened a handful of times – we could forget to put out the trash altogether.  THIS IS VERY BAD. Not only could the forgotten trash turn out to be the one with the diapers in it, it has far-reaching cultural ramifications. Oh the guilt!
It’s funny, but in America one can find trash cans every 50 feet, no matter where one is.  But there are still mounds of trash lying around on the ground.   In Germany, trash cans are few and far between, but, it’s amazing - Germany is pristine.  If there is no trash can, people will simply HOLD ON TO THEIR TRASH and take it with them!  When a can is found, there is a rush to rid one’s pockets, car, etc. of any trash so that one does not have to dispose of it in one’s own trash can.  My husband will take the extra time after purchasing something to unwrap it and throw away the box and plastic wrapping at the store.  Disposing of the trash takes pre-eminence over saving receipts and original packing, so that in the case we need to return something, WE CAN’T – no receipt, no box.  Of course not. It’s been promptly and properly disposed of.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Finding Baby items - Plus!

A huge thanks to HENhaus member Anna for putting this together for all you "Moms" and "Mums" out there...  I believe we had BabyWalz on our shopping page, but the other ones are at least new locations to me, if not totally new stores, especially the second hand places!  On another note - I recently re-visited Kinderland Rofu in Fuerth again, and they have moved to a new space in the same shopping center, and teh store is as great as ever.  Fabulous location for toys, birthday party accessories, craft items, and they even have a decent selection of baby items!  Happy Shopping!

Having a baby while living in Germany or already have children and trying to figure out where to shop for various items? Here’s a list (straight from local German mom) of all the best stores with the largest selection to buy children’s items. This list comes with the caveat that most everything is more expensive here (as compared to US prices), but you can find most items you need.

Where to find new items such as strollers, bedding, car seats, baby carriers, and all the basics--these stores also offer furniture if you are looking for options other than IKEA

BabyWalz (Downtown Nuremberg—near Jack Wolfskin store)—the staff here was incredibly helpful, it’s a smaller store than I thought…no furniture on display, but they have a catalog if you’re in the market for cribs, changing tables, etc.
Vordere Ledergasse 16-20, 90403 Nuremberg

Baby-One Babyfachmarkt (there are a number of Baby-one stores in the area, however this is the biggest one with the largest selection)
Ostendstrasse 115, 90482 Nuremberg

My Toys (Downtown Nuremberg)—great for toys and other fun stuff
Breite Gasse 5, 90402 Nuremberg

Second hand stores with a decent selection:
KINDERREICH- Nuremberg (very nice)
Innerer Kleinreuther Weg 24-26, 90408 Nuremberg

Latzhose & Co.
Gebersdorferstrasse 126, Nuremberg

Daily need items such as Diapers, etc:
DM Drogeriemarkt
Grocery stores

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Crossing - IWG Art Exhibition Opening this Thursday


An Art Exhibition at the Gallery Treppenhaus featuring Artists from the International Women’s Group

Painting, Photography, Installation, Sculpture, Textile, Film - From 7. 7 - 9. 9 2011

Vernissage/Opening: Thursday, 7. 7 @7pm
Speakers: Gabriella Heija, Management Gallery Treppenhaus
Linda M. Eviston, IWG President
Musical entertainment by IWG members
Finissage/Closing: Thursday, 1. 9 @7pm
Free Entry

Paths cross and bring people and ideas together. This summer the “Crossing“ will be at the
Galerie Treppenhaus; different nationalities, artistic directions and expressions synergizing.
Enjoy an evening with a glass of prosecco, fingerfood and live music on the terrace, while viewing the striking art of our fellow IWG members. We invite you to enter our journey
and share in our inspiration.

Calie Amini - USA
Heather Janel Denny - USA
Jeanette Edelmann - Sri Lanka
Jacqueline Eviston-Putsch - Germany
Victoria Eviston-Putsch - Germany
Demet Gürel-Freiburg - Turkey
Karin Hesse - Germany
Stacey Lebitz - USA
Tiina Kivikas - Estonia
Blanca Meléndez - Costa Rica
Teresa Londono-Brunner - Colombia
Mia van der Heijden - Netherlands
Lotta Valdmaa - Sweden
Misook Winter - Korea

Jazz in the Park!

Thursday the 14th of June at 8pm, head out to the Stadtpark Fuerth for a night of jazz under the stars.  With everything from B.B. King to Cole Porter, and from Ray Charles to George Gershwin, the 2nd part to the "Blues in the Night" series promises to be an evening of musical summer magic!

Friday, July 1, 2011

USA "Party Foods!"

A friend of mine just shared this link with me, and at first, I thought "Oh, yeah, I've seen these American food websites... they all have food I don't really want, and at prices I'm not willing to pay..."  but then I took a look at what these guys actually have to offer - and I was pretty impressed.  Still no Twizzlers, and the prices are high, but in my book, a box of Cap'n Crunch might just be worth 7 Euros!  Thank for sharing Allison!