Liv Hambrett

Germany + Australia + Culture + Motherhood + Home

Life in Weiden, Travel + Life Abroad

The Survival Plan

So determined am I to break through the final frontier – accepting the German Winter – that I have become obsessed with ways to not only survive the colder months, but thrive. I can’t believe I just wrote that. Nevertheless, it’s what I’m doing – surrendering myself to this dark, icy season/half a year, and letting it do what it will. (Check back with me in January, when I’ve come down off my glühwein high and Santa has been and gone and I’m in a corner, scoffing Vitamin D pills and glowering darkly at my scarf collection, winter jacket and snow-battered boots.) When it’s just days and days of this …

snow12 snow23resized

I have already started a list of things I would like to do this Winter, like build a snowman (original, I know). But I haven’t stopped with a Winter Wish List. No. Among other things, I have already started enjoying Christmas treats. Bring on the Lebkuchen and that hot, spicy wine. I have bought ‘cookie cutters’ in the shapes of reindeer, Christmas trees and, I think, rabbits. I have dragged my Advent calendar out from storage and invested in a new, dare I says it, sensational one for SG (no I haven’t hung them yet, I’m not completely mad. Besides, the rule-loving German who resides in our household just wouldn’t stand for early Advent calendar hanging, I already pushed the boat out with Lebkuchen in October.) I have stocked up on candles bearing any vaguely festive scent; apple, cinnamon, vanilla, and chocolate. I have already started the Christmas present list – ie: who I have to buy for and what I will likely buy. And I know precisely when the Weiden Weihnachtsmarkt begin and I plan to be there on opening night, stuffing any sort of confection I can get my hands on, into my pale little wintry face.


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I have also been perusing Pinterest, something I try and avoid, because it’s more of a rabbit hole than American Mommy Blogs (and their birth stories and ‘What I Wore’ installments). But it has proven inspirational for my Survival Plan, by providing recipes for serious hot chocolates (condensed milk = means business) and alternatives to Christmas trees. As inspirational as, from where I have already purchased Christmas roller stamps for card-decorating purposes.

Along that vein, today, we went to Ikea. In my mind, such a jaunt not only counts as a day trip when it takes an hour to get to, and strolling around Weiden just won’t cut it as a cure for cabin fever, but also forms an integral part of my Survival Plan. Ikea has the best apple and cinnamon candles, which provide the most delicious, Christmassy scent and, come festive season, a wonderful array of treats. Swedish glühwein (red and white) ginger biscuits in tins, enormous amounts of chocolate … you know, all the stuff you need to eat your way through the long, dark nights of November-March. And hotdogs, plenty of hotdogs.

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So here I am, twelve days into November, around six weeks out of Christmas. Feeling good. Feeling strong. Feeling almost aggressive. Bring it on Winter, bring it on (although don’t feel you have to go too crazy, keep it all in the spirit of fun and games).


  1. Isa

    11 November, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Have you ever tried making your own version of Glühwein? That can be fun. I use a variety of spices and orange juice, leaving out the sugar.

    1. Liv

      11 November, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      It is on my list (with ‘make a snowman’ and ‘the ultimate hot chocolate’). I bought cinnamon sticks the other day in preparation. Do you have a good recipe?

      1. Isa

        13 November, 2013 at 8:40 pm

        Nope, sozzy. I just add orange juice, cinnamon sticks and powder, star anis – whole, cloves – whole, garam masala, urm….coriander – ground, lemon, a touch of sugar, only a touch, mind. And throw in anything else in my spice cupboard I think might be ok. Have an array of spices for Indian cooking. May have forgotten some important element.

        1. Isa

          13 November, 2013 at 9:22 pm

          Knew I’d forgotten summat: cardamon (black pods) – but it’s generally ground up in garam masala anyway, if a ready mix is purchased; then again there’s an array of spices in garam masala that I double up on anyway. This article might be of interest, although, the ‘perfect’ glühwein is a matter of taste 😉

          1. Liv

            14 November, 2013 at 1:46 pm

            Isa, that sounds like a doozy of a glühwein. Coriander? Garam masala? Am definitely going to brew up some sort of enormous experimental pot and see what happens.

  2. westernworld

    12 November, 2013 at 8:42 am

    not to snow on your parade but you might actually consider getting some of these as winter in weiden might get tad colder than you’re used to from up north unless you luck out and catch a really mild one.
    on the upside a snowy winter in the countryside is a lot less grey and miserable than in hamburg or especially berlin a town famous for its soul destroying dark winters.

    wird schon schief gehen. ; )

    1. Liv

      12 November, 2013 at 9:27 am

      I am actually a little excited/scared about really experiencing winter down here. I skipped last year’s, by being in Australia, and the winter before that, I was in Münster. So I haven’t had the full force of a Bavarian winter, as yet … help me. These look excellent! My toes always die inside my boots (even with thick socks) so this may just be what I need. And lots and lots of glühwein …

  3. flythesevenseas

    12 November, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    I invested in boardgames last year and spent many Sundays playing ‘Schweinerei’ and (even) German scrabble with a jug of Glühwein to help me along. This year I’m chickening out to spend a month in Sydney but will rejoin the winter sleep in January.

    You can do it!!

    1. Liv

      12 November, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      Yes! Board games are an excellent idea. We recently bought Monopoly and I think I want German Taboo (to, you know, embarrass myself and keep learning). A jug of glühwein is an excellent idea, I may start using a candle-warmed teekanne to store an evening’s worth of it, in!

  4. DerUmi

    29 November, 2013 at 12:04 am

    You could try out skiing or snowboarding in the Erzgebirge, either on the Czech or on the Saxonian side. It is just around 100km as the crow flies away from Weiden. You can rent ski/snowboard and accompanying boots, and maybe even the ski dress.

    Also don’t miss sledge riding in your area. I guess there are some hills nearby which are more than good enough for that. 🙂

    1. Liv

      29 November, 2013 at 8:56 am

      Really going to have to embrace the snow this winter, get myself in a sled or on a pair of skis. I don’t have a great history with snow sports, perhaps it’s time to change that!

  5. Cailean

    5 December, 2013 at 3:47 am

    Have tried making snow angels yet? And yes that’s the word for word translation of Schneeengel. If not it is a must do .. for kids after the first serious snow of the year. 🙂
    If you don’t know what I am talking about ask your german. Even though he is from the coast and therefore experiencend less snow than other parts of the country he should know what that means.

    1. Liv

      5 December, 2013 at 8:17 am

      I will definitely try a snow angel this year! We call them snow angels in English too, but of course I never had much chance to make one in Sydney.

  6. Slide | Liv Hambrett

    4 January, 2014 at 10:47 am

    […] minutes make a big difference, you know, when you’re a hater of all things winter, like I am. And I have tried hard with this winter. I thought we could, perhaps, change our relationship, come to a better agreement. But it’s […]

  7. Getting Gemütlich – Liv Hambrett

    18 November, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    […] I psych myself up every year for winter. It usually starts around later October, but this year we have had some luck in the weather department, and the sun shone brilliantly well into this month. The first of November was 18 degrees and it seemed the Germans were on track to complain about a potentially too-warm Christmas. And so it is that my psyching up has only had to begin very recently, as indicators of tougher times ahead have only just begun to appear. Accordingly, I have treated myself to new Schnürstiefel, begun buying a pumpkin or two a week at the local markets for vats of soup, and am already into the Christmas biscuits. […]

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