I was born in Augsburg, Germany, grew up in Northern California. My ancestors are German, English and Scottish . . . settled in Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina and Maryland . . . all rich in history and waiting for me to discover and share our story.
The Christmas tree that stands so beautiful and tall, adorned with ornaments as old as I am . . . belonged to my beautiful mom (1933~2010). I was blessed to inherit her family room tree (she always had two artificial trees standing in her home ) and ornaments. At first, it was difficult but as I continued to decorate for the holidays . . . I felt surrounded by her and all Christmas things she loved so much. I have to say, it feels good, and I think now the hard part will be having to take it all down.
I also inherited a few pieces of her Thomas Kinkade Christmas Village collection . . . there are many more pieces to the collection I hope to own someday. It's a beautiful village and each time I look at it . . . I smile and mom warms my heart and I know she is here with our family.
~ Happy Holidays and warm Christmas wishes to all of the genea~bloggers and your families . . . to our friends and family . . . to remembering all of those who have gone before us, keeping our Ancestors close to our hearts ~ and to making many new memories in the New Year for generations to come . May all your wishes come true ~
I have always had a little tree with the cute little burlap bottom for Christmas (purchased at my local craft store) on my kitchen counter for many years. I would adorn this little tree with Christmas cookie cutters and lights. Some of the Christmas shaped cookie cutters once belonged to mom . . . she gave them to me for the kids. Our cookie cutter tree always makes my kitchen bright and sweet...the kids smile when they see it! Now, I have two miniature Christmas trees in my kitchen/family room . . . .
~ First Ancestor Tree ~
Right after my maternal Uncle Adi passed away in 2004, I came up with the idea to put photos on tags of all my family members who have passed and would not be with us during Christmas. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do yet but I found paper photo tags at my local craft store and thought that they would work for the time being.
I didn't like the size or that "store bought look" at the time but at least I could honor my loved ones on the tree right away. I had always wanted to make my own tags and last year I had shared the idea with a fellow blogger . . . so in 2010 I made my own. Tammy, over at Rosie Cotton liked the idea then, so in 2010, she contacted me asking if I had done them and to check hers out. Tammy's came out beautiful and she motivated me to get started on mine.
It was hard for me to get motivated that year (2010) because I had to add my beautiful Mom (1933~2010) and my Oma (1913~2010). I just couldn't get myself started but I knew I needed to. I got together with my neighbor Claire . . . she really helped me to push myself and get the creative juices flowing!
Between Claire and Tammy, I finally did get my tags done (2010) and I was very happy with them. So . . . thank you Tammy and Claire for supporting me in a very delicate project. It's still difficult to see my beautiful Mom's tag on that tree . . . she is so very missed . . . all of our Ancestors are very missed.
I decided to place my Ancestor tree under my family tree chart . . . which is very near my kitchen and can be seen from just about every angle. It's a perfect spot I must say.
Last year, several bloggers made the suggestion to keep my ancestor tree up all year... I am reporting, this year (2011) that I did leave it up all year, each day I would plug in the lights . . . I think it's a great way to keep our loved ones who have passed, close to us all year and especially at Christmas time.
Today, my (maternal grandmother) Oma, Liselotte Haf née Kaiser-Saule (1913 ~ 2010) would have been 98 years old. Oma was born in Zurich, Switzerland. What a wonderful day that was ~ Happy Birthday Oma, we love and miss you!
Oma grew up and resided in Augsburg, Germany all of her life . . . very close to the town hall centre shown on the Christmas card above and in this live web cam (Christmas Market is closed at the time of this posting) of the Rathaus Plaza and Christmas Market. Augsburg is nine hours ahead ~ when the market is open, it's absolutely beautiful to watch.
Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace. Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born. Silent night, holy night!
Son of God love's pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth.
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth
Stille Nacht (Silent Night) In Deutsch (German)
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb' aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund'.
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
This has been and always will be my very favorite Christmas song! Stille Nacht (Silent Night) was also my mom's very favorite and she loved the Vienna Choir Boys...so it's perfect as to why I chose it for footnoteMaven' s Tradition of Blog Caroling...thank you fM! And here's to you Mom...Schlaf Gut...Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!...I love you ~
Aunt Gitta, Uncle Adi, my mom, Uncle Helmut, myself, Oma Lieselotte, Great Oma Margarete and Opa Adalbert Haf
Our arrival at the Munich, Germany, airport 1965
My wonderful and unforgettable memory of traveling was when mom and I flew back to Augsburg, Germany - a more than 2000 year old city. I was born in Augsburg and came to the U.S. when I was three. Mom was born and raised there. This was the first trip we made back together and to boot, we did it at Christmas time, the most beautiful time of the year to me.
Munich Airport ~ our airplane ~ Lufthansa
Our flight was about an eighteen hour flight from LAX to Munich. We flew via Lufthansa. I will never forget that flight. Because we were going to be in Germany for a little over three weeks, mom had all of my class work and homework pre-arranged to take with me. I remember doing my school work on that plane! I remember we would get these really neat smelling (lemon scent) wet wipes after eating a meal. To this day, I am also reminded of that trip each time I encounter that familiar scent!
Once we landed in Munich, we would have about a one hour drive from Munich to Augsburg. Mom and I were quite tired but we didn't care, it was so exciting - I was in Germany! I remember how emotional it was to see my Opa (1907~1968), Oma (1913~2010) and great Oma (1888~1972) along with my two uncles (1940~1994) and (1940~2004) and aunt Gitta at the airport. I hadn't seem my Opa since I had left in 1957 and we were inseparable at one time. The photo above was taken upon that arrival.
The Autostrasse Sudtirol
I remember how beautiful the ride was to my Oma's home. Germany is gorgeous. It was snowing, cold and I was loving every minute of it! We went all over the place . . . to my great Oma, Margarete's, to my uncles homes and shopping at the Rathhaus Plaza.
I have the webcam of the Rathhaus Plaza on each and everyday right now, the famous and traditional Christmas market is in full swing. It's a great feeling to see a place that you were born in all the way across the ocean on a webcam and still feel as if you are there! It's like I get to travel there everyday. They are nine hours ahead so the best time to watch is around eight or nine a.m. from here in the states. Mom would watch it everyday too and she knew each trolley and where it was headed! My Oma lived just blocks from the plaza -she was ninety-six years old.
Opa, myself, Oma Lieselotte, and Mom, our trip to the Alps
Mom and I along with my Opa, Oma and my uncles traveled to the Alp's. The Alp's are breath taking. What an experience it was to visit such a beautiful and magical place. Most of all, I enjoyed Christmas with all of the family members and having a very traditional German Christmas. The family, the food, the joy of being together was unforgettable.
Mom would try to go back each year, my daughter went back with my mom when she was thirteen (just as I did) at Christmas time. She also experienced a memorable time that will last her a lifetime.
That really is the only "big" trip that my family has made during the holidays. We normally stay within our area. Mom lived about an hour and a half away. We would travel to her home and spend an evening with her to have our Christmas together. It may have been a week or so before Christmas but with the kids grown and having their own families, it was much easier that way. Christmas Eve is spent in our home and Christmas Day the kids spend the day with their own families and in-laws.
Please note: This post originally ran for the Advent Calendar of Memories in December 2009 ~ Mom use to watch the Rathhaus webcam everyday, she grew up just down the street from this wonderful little center now alive with the Christmas market. Even though mom and Oma are not here with us...I continue to watch it each day too . . . after all, it's where I was born! My visit back there as described in this story . . . I very much remember the Rathhaus.
~ Happy Holidays! ~
This post originally created for Holiday Travel on the
Christmas Cookies were a very big part of our Christmas. In November, mom (1933~2010) would start baking her cookies and store them in tin containers until about a week before Christmas. Mom would have platters full of each type of cookie on the table for when friends and family stopped by.
My favorite cookie as I had posted about in the Advent Calendar Holiday Foods post, was mom's own Spritz Cookie recipe! They are so good. I am a hardcore tea drinker, when I would get to mom's, the electric tea kettle goes on, and mom and I would sit and chat while I enjoy several Spritz cookies. These cookies always bring back such loving memories of Mom and home.
Mom still used a cookie press that she had brought with her from Germany when we came to the states. I have tried to make these cookies. It's pretty comical ~ the modern cookie press I have is a nightmare to use and my cookies come out disastrous each time! Until I was to inherit the German cookie press, I left the Spritz cookie making to mom.
Mom's German Spritz Cookies
1 cup of butter (2 sticks) softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1/2 cup toasted sliced blanched almonds finely ground
Optional: toppings (sprinkles, cherries, etc.). In the last few years, mom has dipped half of the cookie in chocolate, which is my favorite.
~ Preheat oven to 375° ~
Cream butter, add sugar, beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and extracts. Gradually blend in flour and almonds. Using either a cookie press or pastry bag, pipe different shapes (mom makes an S, or a round or straight 3" cookie, it's up to your imagination) onto un-greased cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 10 to 12 minutes or until a pale golden color. Remove cookies and cool on wire racks. Decorate as you please.
I have also started my own baking tradition: Banana Bread. It's not a cookie but I wanted to share it with you anyway. It is the best banana bread I have ever tasted. The recipe is from my childhood best friend, Sandy's mom (my second mom), Nita. This recipe is a huge hit around our house and I take a loaf to our friends that have a Christmas morning breakfast every year at their home. Nita's banana bread is wonderful and each time I make it, it brings a smile to my face with many wonderful memories. Thank you Nita, I love ya!
~ My home, 2011 ~
Nita's Banana Bread
(published with permission)
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 or 2 cups sugar (I use 1 cup and its just right)
1 teaspoon salt
Mix all together, then add:
1 and 1/2 cup oil
1 and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 8oz can of crushed pineapple with the juice (I have used less and it's fine)
3 mashed bananas
Chocolate chips (optional - I always add chocolate chips, they are a nice addition.)
Bake in a greased and floured tube or bundt pan at 350° for about an hour. Keep checking with a toothpick to make sure you don't over cook it. Makes 2 loaves. This year, 2011, I decided to make muffins instead of loaves, I'm liking the muffins alot. I also used Nita's mixture of sugar and cinnamon and you can add pecans or walnuts, (Nita uses walnuts) finely chopped, mix the cinnamon, sugar and nuts together and sprinkle over the top of the batter before baking. Makes a wonderful topping.
~ Happy Holidays! ~
This post originally created for Christmas Cookies on the
The card above is of the Rathaus Plaza, Augsburg, Germany. The clock tower, and the town city hall ~ the birth place of the author of this blog. Augsburg is over 2000 years old - each and everyday during the holiday season, I keep this ~ webcam ~ of the plaza up on my computer. And right now, the Christmas market is alive and bustling. It's like being right there! Keep in mind they are nine hours ahead, best time to view the webcam has been around nine a.m. California time. The Christmas lights, the street cars and the huge Christmas tree is a sight to behold. My Oma lived very close to this plaza. I remember walking around the shops on a trip back home when I was just thirteen. There are webcam's all over the world, it's amazing to watch them.
This card and tag, was made by my cousin Marion, we share the love of cardmaking!
I have had a passion for cards ever since I was a very little girl. I love making cards, sending them and receiving them. It's probably safe to say that I have an addiction to cards as much as I have to genealogy now! I have gone so far as keeping most cards that have been given to me. I have gotten better, and I pick and choose what I keep now. I have created a system so it is not out of control! I hunted high and low for a file box that was pleasing to look at, currently it's a Victorian floral. I use a file folder with a label for each person. Those pretty file folders are what holds each precious card I keep. I can go back, read and look at each card and letter anytime. It feels as if I am with that person for a little while.
Cards are very important to me. I can remember as far back as the third grade when I penned a thank you card to my best friend Sandy's mom for letting me spend the night. It is said that Nita, who is like a second mom, still has that thank you note. I am going to ask her because I would love to see that one! I always gave a thank you card for the littlest things, or just a card to say hello ~ I am thinking of you ~ get well ~ any reason at all.
Christmas is the best time. Each day receiving a card is exciting and I look forward to opening it. I use a letter opener, never tearing the envelope! I write the date received on the card and when I responded. I know I am a bit weird, but I told you, I have a thing for cards.
I started out with store bought cards and added stickers, not the cutesy kind but Victorian die cut type of stickers. Then I went on to stamping and embossing, then I would do both! Now I try and make my own cards as time permits. I enjoy the "hands on" feel of the paper and personalizing the card to each person or event. I am slowly learning digi-scrapping as I would like to learn to do some cards on my computer.
Card on the left is from my uncle Adi (1940-2004), Aunt Gitta and cousin Marion 1993
This card is from my Oma (grandmother) 2005
I knew the ones I wanted to focus on were the ones from my Oma Lieselotte, my aunt Gitta, uncle Adi, and my cousin Marion ~~ all from Germany. As I was going thru the folders, I had many different emotions, I realized I hadn't visited these treasures in a long time, partly because my two twin uncles have passed, I miss them and life has just been busy. I am so glad I have kept all my cards.
This card was handmade for me by my aunt Gitta Sadly, I don't have the year this card was made.
It was very difficult just to pick a few. There are so many beautiful cards to share that I could be here for a long time!
~ Happy Holidays! ~
This post originally created for the Christmas Card Memories on the
Our tree always had traditional German ornaments, the most beautiful kind. Some glass, some handmade and very delicate. Mom (1933~2010) still has many from close to fifty years ago. I have several heirloom ornaments that have a very special meaning to me so I have chosen a few to share with you.
My Oma, Lieselotte Haf, lived in Augsburg, Germany, made these wonderful walnut ornaments for me. Oma traveled every few years to California to visit us. During one of her visits she wanted to make some traditional walnut ornaments, the kind she made back home during tough times.
We bought a bag of walnuts, red yarn, and gold paint! Oma and I sat and carefully cracked open the walnuts so that we could glue the string inside, glue the walnut back together and paint them gold. That was 31 years ago this Christmas. I will never forget sharing this time with her, laughing as we would try not to crack the walnut shells into pieces! In mom's own words, "German's like handmade ornaments, nature type ornaments." I have cherished the walnut ornaments Oma made me and proudly put them on my tree each Christmas.
Hand made ornament
My aunt Gitta in Germany is an expert at "Kloppeln". It's not embroidery, it's not needlepoint, or cross stitch - it's German Lace Making. Aunt Gitta has her own style, but I can tell you it's amazing. Aunt Gitta has spent many hours making these beautiful heirlooms and I cherish each and every one of them she made for me.
Aunt Gitta has made several items for mom and for me over the years, the Christmas tree ornament is truly beautiful along with this Kloppeln doily that I use under my mini memory tree in my family room. My mini memory tree has photos of loved ones and ancestors passed. I always have a mini tree in my kitchen/family room, it use to have Christmas cookie cutters on it, now it holds photos as ornaments of those we want to remember and we miss so much.
This year, I have decided to do "Mom's Christmas Tree Jewels ~ Memory Count Down to share mom's Christmas tree ornaments that she collected over my lifetime and many that she gifted to me each Christmas. This year I have been blessed to own these beautiful ornaments and her lovely artificial tree. Click ~ here ~ to enjoy an ornament a day. Originally I was only going to post just up to Christmas day but I have decided to do it for the entire month of December . . . there are so many that I may have to double up but I want to visually document our Christmas memories for the generations to come.
~ Happy Holidays! ~
This post originally created for the Christmas Tree Ornament Memories on the
Advent Calendar ~ Day 2 ~ Memories of our Holiday Foods~
Some of my favorite memories are of Mom (1933~2010) baking a ton of cookies. I remember that she would start baking early in November and then store them in tin containers until the Christmas holiday.
My favorite were mom's Spritz cookies - they were so good! In the last few years mom had added a few variations to her traditional spritz cookie. Knowing how much I love these cookies and chocolate, mom combined the two, dipping half of the spritz cookie in chocolate. Not only does it look good, but it was to die for!
Mom also made a crescent shaped hazelnut cookie with powdered sugar on top, everyone in my family loves the hazelnut cookies. Another cookie that comes to mind are her buttery sugar cookies. All of these recipes and more are in German in her own handwriting. Slowly, mom started to translate the recipes from German to English so that not only will I have them, but our holiday food traditions would continue to be handed down. Sadly, losing my Mom and my Grandmother (1913~2010) in 2010, only a few of the family recipes were translated. I am slowly working on getting the recipes translated into English. I am attempting to learn German and my cousin, Marion in Germany, is helping me through this interesting journey.
Breads and Cakes~
Mom also made a German bread called "Stollen" which consists of: candied fruit, nuts, raisins and marzipan. Sorry, not one of my favorites but very traditional. Of course there is my most favorite, great Oma Margarete's 'German Marble Cake'.
Christmas Packages from Germany~
Once mom and I were here in the states, my Oma would send us a Christmas package every year. It was always exciting because she would send foods that mom was used to having and what I grew to love. Oma always sent the kidney shaped chocolate liquors which is a hard dark chocolate shell on the outside, filled with Brandy on the inside, these are now available at stores like "Trader Joes". You had to pop the entire candy in your mouth or Brandy would drip all over. As a child, I was only allowed one or two of these and I still remember how good they were and thinking how grown-up I got to be!
I don't recall this dinner, however, mom said that the traditional holiday dinner that was cooked was a goose. What I recall of our holiday dinner was a roast with potato balls, smothered in her German gravy. For as far back as I can remember, mom had made the potato balls from scratch. Potato balls are very labor intensive as mom got older, she started to use a German packaged potato ball mix named "Phanni". They are still very good, but not as good as mom's homemade. The store bought mix method was much easier on mom, this allowed her to spend more time with family and I was all for that.
I truly miss mom's Christmas cookies and the wonderful dinner she would always prepare at Christmas but I have so many amazing memories to sustain me and my family ~ I thank mom and Oma for the very special and magical Christmas memories a girl could have.
~ Happy Holidays ~
This post originally created for the Holiday Food Memories on the