In case you were wondering, this isn’t a typo. Neither is it a sad attempt at finally being considered hip kids (I can’t speak for any of the other titles the duck and I have come up with, though). Veganz is a German food brand that focuses on plant-based products and strives toward increased sustainability. Usually, Veganz is too pricey for our stingy little hearts. When we found that they had added two Christmas-themed chocolate bars to their range, however, the duck and I saw this as the perfect opportunity to expand our non-dark vegan chocolate experiences. At first, we wanted to go with “Organic White Baked Apple” because we had never tried vegan white chocolate and had some leftover regret about dropping last year’s plan to do a completely apple-themed Christmas treat taste test. When we saw that “Organic Gingerbread Magic” sports a gianduja base, another version of vegan chocolate we’d never tried before, the duck and I agreed to splurge. Paying a combined non-discounted 5+ Euros for two Christmas-themed 80-90g chocolate bars to celebrate our favorite season for German snacks was totally fine… we had to repeat to ourselves over and over. Veganz might be too cool for discounts, but the duck and I aren’t too cool for new taste experiences. So, here are our subjective thoughts on two of the fanciest chocolate bars we’ve invested in:
Snacks: Tasting two more German Christmas treats
After writing about thirteen traditional German Christmas treats and subjectively reviewing three of them in the past two years, the duck and I decided it was high time we tried a few more baked Christmas goods – this time, some we had never tried before. At first, we wanted to review apple-cinnamon heart cookies and a baked apple Stollen, both from the 2021 Bahlsen (a German cookies and cakes brand) Christmas lineup. We couldn’t find this particular Bahlsen Stollen anywhere (we were looking too early). But we did find Lidl store brand mini baked apple Stollen during one of our October grocery shops. Then we remembered the Bahlsen mini Spekulatius with milk chocolate we had seen during our apple Stollen search and decided that those sounded much more awesome anyway and grabbed a bag of those instead of the apple-cinnamon cookies. Now we had a new, even more exciting, theme for this year’s German Christmas treat taste test: Mini snacks! While we would not eat apple Stollen and chocolate Spekulatius in the same sitting (with us being decidedly peculiar when it comes to mixing fruit and chocolate flavors), those two treats promised to be a perfect representation of the fruity and the chocolaty side of German Christmas treats. Here’s what we thought:
List – noun /lɪst/
This one was a long time coming.
When the duck and I talked to our friend about her work one fateful day, I came to a sudden realization: I thoroughly enjoy lists. While real-life me instantly began using any remotely suitable opportunity to declare this newly denominated character trait (much to the duck’s embarrassment), it took a while until I typed out the proclamation that “I love lists, especially pretty ones.” I am ashamed that, one year later, there still are very few lists on here. To change that, I took the duck and my favorite season (the one that had us believe two years ago that it would be a great idea to post on here 24 days in a row which, of course, it isn’t if you’re a self-confessed lazy person with sudden bouts of perfectionism in the most inconvenient situations) as motivation to finally dedicate a whole post to this obsession.Look at the duck pretending to help me come up with some of my favorite kinds of lists for this post. Here they are: Continue reading
Snacks: Winter Ritter Sport
Christmas is over, but it’s still winter. So, the duck and I decided to try this year’s Ritter Sport chocolate winter mix – this time without waiting until the end of the season to look for a box of miniatures. Nevertheless, we still had to conduct our (now) traditional visits to four different stores until we found a box. When we had finally gotten a hold of one (the last one in the store, it seemed), we took a closer look at the individual chocolate bars for the first time and then realized why they had been so hard to locate even though astronomical winter was less than a month old:
Even though they are called ‘winter edition’, the chocolates are definitely Christmas-themed, as is the shiny packaging. Like most other Christmas snacks, those Ritter Sport chocolate varieties disappeared from most grocery store shelves as soon as Christmas was over, with only one box of miniatures waiting to be picked up by the duck and me so that they could be tested by two of the most unsuitable taste testers out there:
Baking to Night Vale
Last year the duck and I assembled our Berlin Baking buddies and baked Christmas cookies to celebrate that we had successfully made it through the ovenless period. This year we are over our oven excitement. So we decided to go back to our tradition of baking Christmas cookies solo (well, duo) which also sounded like the sensible thing to do this year. In the past few years whenever we’d embark on a duo baking adventure the duck and I would put on a fiction podcast to go on an added adventure in our imagination while we combined ingredients, rolled out dough, cut fun shapes, or waited for our creations to be done baking or drying. This year, as we were baking cinnamon cookies, we decided to go back to the origin of our podcast appreciation and caught up on some episodes of Welcome to Night Vale.Back when I lived close to many of my friends, we used to have movie nights that we would not only spend trying to find the perfect silly movie to watch together (we discovered quite a few unexpectedly good movies that way) but also talking about all kinds of (funny, weird, creepy, annoying) things that we had experienced, discovered or read somewhere. One night, while talking about creepy stories, one of my friends mentioned Welcome to Night Vale and recommended we all give it a listen. This has probably been one of the best recommendations I have ever gotten which is why today’s friends’ recommendation post will focus on this wonderfully creepy podcast that began my podcast obsession:
How I became a cool sock
Isn’t there this thing about receiving socks for Christmas and how it’s a punishment or a test of how well you can hide your disappointment? Maybe that’s only the case if you’re a child? Or if you receive nothing but socks? Or if the socks are boring? I don’t remember. I just know that at some point in my life I was under the impression that giving or receiving socks as a Christmas or birthday present was somewhat frowned upon.
As some of you might remember from a previous sock post, I used to be a plain-socks-to-look-‘professional’ kind of person. So receiving those would indeed be boring. But thanks to a set of wonderful friends with great taste in socks, I was forced to rethink my take on socks. I had received the occasional pair of pretty (souvenir) socks from friends (and even myself) before, but in the past few years the duck and I have noticed a trend: It started when our lovely friend J sent us a cool set of socks, some of which featured fluffy wolves! Those socks definitely boosted my coolness factor whenever I wore them because everyone who caught sight of them just had to tell me how cool they were (this really was the kind of gift that kept on giving)! I had, in fact, turned into a coole Socke, a ‘cool sock’ (which must be one of the weirdest German expressions for ‘cool person’) overnight. After that I received quite a few nice pairs of socks – maybe the duck and my friends had plotted to make me cooler (perhaps out of embarrassment)? Or maybe there just are more fun sock brands around these days? What do you think?
Reflecting on cool socks also made the duck and me think about Christmas presents. We actually believe that Christmas presents should be optional (and we don’t ever expect anyone to get us anything because we’re just not that great at picking out presents ourselves and we try way too hard which stresses us out more than it should). In fact, the duck and I prefer sending out homemade Christmas cards because we worry that what we get the other person might feel forced and impersonal. I wish we were as good at seeking out presents as our lovely friends are (I think I’ve never ugly-cried as much about amazing unexpected gifts as I have in the past few years). There have been a few instances, however, when we saw something and knew exactly who we’d want to send it to. Those rare moments (I guess because our favorite kind of shopping still is grocery shopping) excite us more than they should and we find ourselves waking up in the middle of the night wondering how the giftee will react. Cards can do the same for us, though, and even though we tend to spend way too much time on designing them, the outcome can be quite rewarding. This is the kind of stress that we appreciate because if the design isn’t good, that’s our fault alone and not that of the local shops or the internet for not having exactly what we want to give away…
Do you like shopping for Christmas presents? Do you think they are compulsory?
About Advent calendars
This year, on top of helping the duck and me impress others by always knowing the date and, after some slow math, how many days we have to wait until it’s Christmas, our Advent calendar can also be upgraded: By adding a few more treats ourselves it can be used as an end-of-2020-calendar. Isn’t that great?! We’ll start looking for tea bags to add to one of our tea Advent calendars tomorrow! While 2021 will likely continue where 2020 left off it does have a more optimistic outlook, don’t you think? The Advent calendar that the duck is posing with in today’s photo is actually from 2019 when we received it as a gift but decided to hold on to it until this year since we had already bought ourselves another tea calendar and thought that having two different tea varieties to try every day was a bit too exciting for us to handle (little did we know that we’d be given two more tea Advent calendars this year. What to do?). Despite all that tea the duck and I actually are considering getting an additional non-tea Advent calendar, especially since we’re not crazy and energetic enough to do a blog Advent calendar as we did last year (not a fresh one, anyway).
We’ve gone through quite a few interesting Advent calendars throughout the years. And that is exactly what we want to write about today: Continue reading
Snacks: Getting ready for Christmas
It’s almost Christmas! You can tell by how many Christmas movies are currently added to some of your favorite streaming services, by the occasional fairy lights greeting you from foreign windows and by the fact that now Advent Calendars have joined the Christmas treats that have been hanging around the grocery stores since early September. Have I mentioned that the duck and I love Christmas? We do like Halloween, but having it not really be a thing in Germany means that we can start being excited about Christmas season even earlier than November 1st without feeling bad about it (not that we would).
Now that we’re way into November already, the duck and I finally decided to get our hands on some of those grocery store Christmas treats we only wrote about last year. Reviewing the whole baker’s dozen would have been too ambitious, at least for the 2020 duck and me, so we decided on Dominosteine, Stollen and Baumkuchenspitzen. Unlike most other super subjective taste tests that we’ve done in the past, neither of those treats are completely new to us. But since it’s been at least a year since we last had them and we are writing this in 2020, a year in which it wouldn’t be surprising if everything tasted slightly different, and since the duck and I are the ones making the rules on here anyway, we meekly present to you this year’s why-do-we-always-forget-that-we-are-super-particular-about-most-foods-and-on-top-of-that-terrible-at-describing-tastes – Christmas edition:
Day 24: Considerations in a Christmas tree
Today is the day the duck and I decorate our fake Christmas tree with lots of ornaments that are not pickles. Today is also the last day of our insane experiment of writing one post for every day of the German Advent calendar (if we weren’t so stubborn we would probably have given up 23 days ago). Since I still haven’t fully defeated my cold that presented you a fun but somewhat confused video pitch for Pie Hard yesterday, and since you probably have lots of Christmas preparations to occupy yourself with, the duck and I will keep this one short.In this photo the duck seems to be dreaming about Christmas dinner (which I will not be cooking today – I’m sorry Frau Müller). Or maybe this is just another instance of a Christmas market daydream. Surely, the duck isn’t dreaming of napping under a Christmas tree while sitting in one… Who knows?
While the duck is relaxing after doing nothing, I will be busy wrapping questionably adequate Christmas presents (I think the duck might be the recipient of that colorful tea candle holder we crafted earlier this month. What’s better than one duck? Right, two ducks!) and thinking about all the foods I will eat tonight. Instead of making our own mulled wine the duck and I will just sip on Glühwein flavored tea with honey. I will also try to eat as many of those almost burnt Christmas cookies from last week’s batch as I can – not being able to taste much is a great advantage here. For the rest of the evening the duck and I will probably play board games (what are your favorites?), eat some more and internally celebrate not having to set an alarm for tomorrow. Nothing beats being able to sleep in on Christmas!
What are your plans for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?
Whatever they are – the duck and I wish you wonderful and relaxed holidays and thank you for reading one or the other Advent calendar blog post of ours. It was fun sharing our Christmas musings with you, but now it’s time to take a break from all that writing and drawing and editing. See you next year (probably)!
The duck and I ♥
Day 23: Solving the “Die Hard” Christmas movie debate
The duck and I are super excited for Christmas. Actually, I have been so excited that I’ve come down with a cold (what did I bake that second batch of Christmas cookies for if I can’t taste them?). That, however, means that the duck and I had plenty of time to watch Christmas movies and to come up with a proposal that shall forever end the debate whether Die Hard can be considered a Christmas movie. Sharpen your cookie-cutters and see for yourself:
Movie execs, call us!
Do you consider the original Die Hard movie to be a Christmas movie?
(The gingerbread remake, of course, would be one of the best Christmas movies out there!)