Crow and I spent Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend in Bowling Green visiting his mom and step-dad. We had dinner on Thursday night at my parents’ house, then drove up to his family’s place for the remainder of the extended weekend.
It’s tradition with Crow and his mom to go shopping on Black Friday. I can hear the hisses from my liberal friends, and the curmudgeons who hate the mass consumerism of Christmas, but I have to admit that it was FUN. Traditionally, Black Friday–being a day off of work–was my day to reflect on a year by writing my annual Christmas letter and creating my holiday photo-card. And then I just spent the rest of the weekend basking in the freedom of not having to go to work.
This year, however, I’m engaged and learning to start new traditions with my husband-to-be. Not to mention the fact that I have also been participating in NaNoWriMo, which has consumed more of my time than I ever imagined, and required my continued attention the entire weekend. This whole writing-life balance has been quite a challenge all month, to say the least. Exciting. But tiring.
Anyway, after visiting with my parents, we left for Bowling Green. With Crow driving, I spent the trip up typing furiously into my MacBook to get my required daily word count to where it needed to be to stay on time with completing 50K words by the end of the month. I’d started the day a little behind because I chose to go out Wednesday night with coworkers and then Crow and some friends instead of write.
Fortunately I hit my total and was able to get to bed when we arrived at his family’s place around 11pm. The next day, it was getting up reasonably early (for me, about 8am) and then setting off into the wilds of shopping on Black Friday. I ended up using some of those really great deals to buy more stuff for myself (needed new headphones, got a 3 TB backup external hard drive for $100 at Costco, some other odds and ends). Believe it or not, we were actually out from about 10am until 9pm! What a day! I enjoyed it, though. It was really fun to hang out with Crow and his mom. I like the way they shop — just go wherever you feel like at the moment, not so much a coordinated attack, and definitely not trying to get those crazy early bird deals. Though I’ve been told there’s generally more organization to their shopping but both were slightly unprepared this year.
After we got home, I, of course, became anti-social as I spent the next few hours furiously typing again on my MacBook for NaNoWriMo. I got a decent number of words down and tiredly called it a night.
The next day, we had to really get up early to leave the house by 7am (!!!!!) because we wanted to go to Frankenmuth, Michigan to shop at the Bronner’s Christmas Store. It was about a 2.5 hour drive to Frankenmuth in which I, again, spent my time writing my novel in the back seat while Crow and his mom played word games with each other in the front seat and chatted. I wanted to take part–especially on the way home when the game was to name a famous person and then name another famous person using the first letter of the previous person’s last name (ie, Fred Astair and Ashton Kucher)–but, alas, I was on a NaNoWriMo mission.
When we arrived at the Christmas store–which is just outside of Frankenmuth itself–the parking lot was full. Of course. I could tell it was a big building but clearly I was completely unprepared for the Christmas overload I was about to experience. While Crow was finding a parking space, I went into the store to use the bathroom. Between the crowded mass of milling people and the vast maze of the huge store, I nearly got lost finding my way back to the front door where Crow and his mom were waiting. Wow!!
Some of the decorations to admire (not buy) at the Christmas store!
We started shopping in a circular pattern from the “west” entrance. I think it took us like four hours to go through the entire store (with a stop for a snack at the snack bar in the middle). We let ourselves go off our budget for the day because we wanted to buy some special Christmas decorations for our first Christmas in our new home together. The bulk of the store is ornaments. And not just any ornaments, but ornaments of every theme or type that you could ever imagine! Crow pointed out some adorable ornaments with alien faces. I, naturally, had to buy one of those!
Cool alien ornaments: A must have for extraterrestrials. Or people who think they are extraterrestrials.
They offered free personalization for the ornaments so I got “Mars Girl” written on the back of the alien one. We also got a “Our First Home” ornament that we had personalized (using our nickname for each other “The Bebes”). Needless to say, we got quite a few interesting ornaments for our tree. In the Germany section, I picked up one that reads “Frohliche Weinachten” which is “Merry Christmas” in German. Lots of ornaments, some of which will surprise me anew when we finally go through the bags to put up our tree.
I splurged a little on myself. But these were items I could not resist, such as Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer socks (they are so soft and warm!) and a Santa purse. Yes.
The irresistible Santa purse!
I didn’t get the hat, though it was adorable as well; I had to draw the line somewhere. This past weekend, I took the purse out with me to two parties we attended and it was quite the object of admiration. So much so, in fact, that Santa Claus–who made an appearance at one of the parties–gave me one of the stuffed animal dogs he’d been giving the children. You know, some people just never grow up!
Crow, Santa, and Mars Girl at a neighborhood Christmas party on December 1st. (I had the Santa hat before Frankenmuth.)
By the time we left the store, I was utterly exhausted. Not only were there products to examine, but the store itself was elaborately decorated. It was overwhelming trying to take it all in while also dodging the mobs of people. Even though we tried to look at everything, I am sure we missed twice as much as we saw. I had a great time, though, looking at all the decorations and imaging the potential Christmas wonderland we could someday make of our house because despite all the decorations we already have, and the decorations we acquired this year, Crow and I have even grander visions. Oh yes.
We decided to go into town after shopping with the main objective of finding food. And then, of course, more shopping. I was tipped off by some cycling friends about the Frankenmuth Brewery so I kind of pushed for us to eat there. I enjoyed some brats and sauerkraut which were actually surprising good for pub-style dining. For beer, I tried a dunkel and a harvest ale. Both were pretty good, though I think I liked the harvest ale a little more. Having had real dunkels in Germany, my expectations were much higher. Dunkels are generally very spicy and this dunkel was a little weak. Hey, but that’s okay, I’m not complaining about a cold beer after four hours in a Christmas store.
The town of Frankenmuth is very European in architecture, clearly drawing from their Bavarian roots. We walked around to various shops admiring the many items available for sale. We stopped for some fudge and I found a vendor selling my absolute favorite snack: candied almonds! The best find, however, was when we walked into one of the shops below the Bavarian Inn & Restaurant. From the door to the shop, right before our eyes, was an entire wall full of ROSETTE IRONS!!
Last year, we went to every cooking and craft store in northern Ohio (both east and west) in a desperate search for rosette irons. It was a frustrating hunt and the harder those damned things were to find, the more I wanted to make rosette cookies. We eventually were saved by a friend who, hearing my cries of desperation on Facebook, sold me her set for $20. Our first attempt at rosette cookies was not entirely successful. But we decided this year when considering the cookies we were going to make for our cookie extravaganza that we were going to attempt them again. While we were no longer in a desperate need for rosette irons, we were drawn to this entire wall full of them because we had sought them for so long. Among the many shapes and sizes of irons, we found a book called The Art of Rosette Cooking! So we decided to buy that as well as an iron of Santa Claus (which we did not have in our kit) and a mold for a cup so that you can make a rosette cup in which to put little goodies like fruit and whipped cream!
The good news is that after perusing the book yesterday morning, I found where we had gone wrong in our efforts at making rosettes and I’m excited already to give it another try. The recipe book also includes tons of other recipes not only for rosette cookie flavors, but other food that can be cooked using rosette irons. So I might have a future in fancy fried appetizers… Stay tuned!
We couldn’t help but feel proud of our discovery. If only we’d thought to visit Frankenmuth last year! Naturally, the town known for having everything Christmas would be the rosette irons we sought. I guess from now on we’ll know where to look for usual Christmas-themed items when all else fails!
We left town around 7pm and I was exhausted. However, I pushed on to write more for NaNoWriMo, eventually ending the day with 2,500 words! That’s impressive for someone writing in a car before and after a long day like that. That night caught me up on my word count (I’d been desperately behind for days) and so I was able to relax the rest of the evening and into the following day where I spent the ride back to Akron just talking to Crow and being in the moment. I did not get behind on my words for the rest of the event which I feel was a major accomplishment.
We really did have a lot of fun. We might make it a tradition to visit Frankenmuth. There are still a lot of surfaces in our house that have space for Christmas decorations. I want to eventually get a Christmas village because it reminds me of the little villages my grandma E put out each year for Christmas. I was always fascinated by those little miniature versions of real life. Especially the little people she had set up on mirrors that served as ice rinks…. I wouldn’t mind having little worlds of my own, though I fear I would play with them like I used to play with my grandma’s little people (which I am sure drove her nuts). What did I say about some people never growing up?
We’re well on our way to be the crazy people who decorate their house like crazy. Crow has put miniature Christmas trees in our bedroom, the office, and our guest bathroom. We have a full-sized tree in our library for just our pop-culture ornaments. We still plan to buy a live tree–our “real” tree–for our presents which we will put in our living room. Crow bought a little nightlight for our bedroom that projects the image of a snowman on our ceiling. And the outside of our house is decorated with blue and white LED icicle lights with lighted candy canes lining the beginning of our driveway (my idea–I’ve always wanted them), a strand of blue lights and lighted snow flake ornaments in our Japanese maple. Yesterday I added a bow with bells and a wreath to the double-doors of our front entrance. We envision buying a huge wreath for next year to place on the bricks in front of our house and a spot light to shine on it.
Who’s got the Christmas spirit? We do!!