Day 22: Things to consider before you book a Christmas trip to Germany

Despite the duck and my extensive accounts on how much we love German Christmas markets and Christmas cookies, of how we are dreaming about German Christmas dinner ghosts and drinking mulled wine regardless of the stomach ache that immediately follows, we don’t think that it’s a good idea to visit Germany over Christmas. That has a simple reason: Christmas in Germany can be quite boring for tourists – if the main purpose for their trip is not watching German or German dubbed family movies on TV – because there is not a whole lot (else) to do between the afternoon of December 24th and the morning of December 27th.

Christmas plan duck

Fortunately, the duck did some research for you! Well, somewhat. The duck sat down and tried very hard to remember the story of our friends’ Christmas trip to Germany: Continue reading


Day 21: Christmas market daydreams

The duck tends to daydream a lot. And I get it. Even though you’re at home or at school or at work at your desk you can explore exciting places without having to deal with the cold outside. The duck’s favorite spot to daydream these days is the little Christmas arrangement by the kitchen table (it’s festive, it’s close to the oven, it’s warm, it’s a bit prickly, but it smells amazing).


Usually, the duck dreams of cookies, cyclists, Osakan food, or of living life as a bird. Recently, however, the duck’s daydreams seem to be dominated by the sensations of strolling around the Christmas market:

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Day 20: Deconstructed Glühwein

If the duck and I were to sell Glühwein, German mulled wine, and call it ‘deconstructed’, trust me, you still wouldn’t want to drink it despite the pretentious title. While with baking we have no trouble following a recipe, when it comes to cooking we often end up attempting to wing it. That’s an understandable approach for a duck, but for me – a wingless human – not so much. Nonetheless, if the duck and I were to make real Glühwein (not a juicy alternative) by ourselves, this is what we would put in it:


Note: The sizes are not relative (though we will applaud anyone who finds such a small bottle of wine and a gigantic star anise)

Written out that would be: red wine (or white wine or berry wine or grape juice or any other kind of red juice), cinnamon sticks, star anise, whole cloves, lemon and orange slices (with the peel – ideally organic) and honey to sweeten this fabulous concoction.
Who are we trying to fool? We’d probably just buy a bottle of Glühwein at the grocery store, heat it up on the stove, maybe throw a few spices in for show, and then serve that.
The one thing that we will say about making Glühwein or any hot drink that includes wine, though, is that you should probably keep its temperature below 75ish°C, for health and for taste reasons!
If you know any good mulled wine recipes, please do share them. If the duck and I try very hard, we might be able to follow a recipe.


*Yokohama Christmas vibes* #day19 #christmasmarketstalling #crazychristmascrowds #TBT

Yokohama ChristmasThis photo is titled ‘Christmas Eve in Yokohama’. I’d say that it pretty much speaks for itself (as does the picture quality of my phone camera).
But for those of you who like to read, here’s the backstory: Two years ago the duck and I made plans with our friend to explore the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Market. That market had been recommended to us by a friend who had been to plenty of Christmas markets in Germany and considered this one to be the most authentic one around Tokyo. In fact, it did look a lot like the ones we saw in Berlin this year, with one tiny difference: It was CROWDED!
That probably was our fault, though, because we thought that it would be a great idea to go there on Christmas Eve, as did lots of couples! It took us over an hour to get from one end of the Christmas market to the other – they were less than 500 meters apart (I think)! We decided to check out one gift stall on the way to the tree at the end of the market, but for food we went to McDonald’s (which wasn’t the worst Christmas dinner we had). That truly was a very formative experience of Christmas in Tokyo.

If you’re in Tokyo around Christmas, the duck and I actually do recommend checking out the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Market – as long as you don’t go on Christmas Eve.
What was your most bizarre Christmas experience?

Day 18: Drinking mulled wine

Last week, when I reported on the duck and my Christmas baking adventure with the Berlin Baking Buddies, I mentioned that we had a discussion about icing that we were only able to resolve after a mulled wine break. Mulled wine, or rather, Glühwein, the German version, is the topic I want to write about today.
Glühwein duckGlühwein is a great ingredient for pretty much any Christmas activity’, is what the duck was saying when I snapped this photo. For a lot of Germans drinking Glühwein is an essential part of their annual Christmas market excursion. Whenever you buy a Glühwein (or any other hot drink), you’re asked to pay a deposit for the glass or porcelain cup it comes in. Since the designs of those cups tend to be different each year (and place!), many Christmas market visitors decide to keep one as a souvenir (which technically isn’t legal, but expected). So, a deposit is definitely a good idea.
The glass the duck and I drank our mulled ‘wine’ from was legally acquired, though, from the kitchen cupboard. The wine itself turned out to be a strong opponent:

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Day 17: Secret Santa sorrow

The duck and I find it insanely hard to come up with good Christmas gift ideas. That’s why we prefer spending a few hours on making personal Christmas cards rather than buying something the giftee might not like. Secret Santa isn’t too bad, though. At least we get to focus on one person whom we’ll attempt to get a suitable gift for, rather than ten. Last year our Secret Santa got us the perfect gift that we didn’t even know was missing in our lives up to that point. The person we had gotten a gift for was not that lucky, unfortunately. When we drew their name we thought for weeks about what the perfect gift for them might look like, but none of our ideas seemed to be good enough. So we decided to go with a bunch of little gifts instead. In our head they looked decent. But then, when it came to assembling and making them, we realized that the end result was horrendous! While I am a decent drawer, the same can’t be said about my crafting skills; after years of folding paper cranes when I’m bored, secret santa duckI still can’t seem to manage to align the edges of the paper just right, so that my cranes only look nice from a distance.
Our Secret Santa gift last year was worse – it didn’t look good no matter how far away you stood.
But, because the duck and I are master procrastinators, we didn’t have enough time to come up with something new so that we ended up gifting a gift that looked as if it was devised and executed by a preschooler. I think this year we might have to get a bonus gift for that person and slip it in their purse when they’re not looking…

Day 16: Creating curious Christmas cards

Tomorrow is our deadline for sending out Christmas mail (and hoping it arrives). So, the duck and I decided to write about one of our favorite Christmas traditions: making Christmas cards!
Christmas card duckThis is a photo of the duck looking at some of the Christmas cards we were about to send out two years ago. That was the last time we drew all of our cards by hand with an actual pen. We still like doing those from time to time, but having to start anew if you mess up is troublesome and sometimes feels like having to redo a frustrating boss battle in a video game. These days we prefer using our trusty laptop and a cheap graphics tablet (which also makes it easier to reprint a card that has gotten lost). Other than that our card-making process has pretty much stayed the same throughout the years:

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Day 15: Christmas dinner apparitions

It’s already the middle of December! While the duck and I have been busy watching movies, eating Christmas cookies (without saving any for later) and daydreaming about Christmas markets, we haven’t really done much in terms of preparation. While most people have probably already meticulously planned out their Christmas dinner, maybe even ordered some ingredients for it, the duck and I are almost certain that our laziness will get in the way of planning out and cooking anything super fancy for Christmas. Nonetheless, it’s always fun to think about what we could be making if we weren’t so lazy and, let’s just write it out, bad at cooking.Cookbook duck

So, we did some cookbook perusing, grocery store exploring and chocolate eating (for good measure). While we were lying on the floor, tired from all the research, three ghosts appeared:

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Day 14: A pickle mystery

During the duck and my Christmas market excursion we had a look at potential ornaments for our Christmas tree. So, we went into one of those little shops with a door and a ramp and everything. Of course the first thing we saw were typical Christmas tree ornaments featuring snowy landscapes or golden stars. But the further in we went, the more specific they got. We looked through bins with ornaments shaped like all kinds of animals (I’m talking marine animals or different cat breeds), gourmet food or musical instruments. Then we came across a whole assortment of pickles in different sizes, colors and textures. I mean, I get why you would like to decorate your Christmas tree with an ornament that looks exactly like Cat, your hat-selling dog, or Hubertus, your violin. But being given the opportunity to decide whether the pickle you put on your tree is tiny, yellow or frosted seems a bit too specific.pickle duck
This is why the duck and I decided to investigate (yet again):

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Day 13: Our favorite German Christmas cookies

The duck and I love baking Christmas cookies! Even more so we love eating them. In an attempt to deal with our cookie cravings without ending up in a food coma we came up with a list of 10 homemade German Christmas cookie varieties we would like to eat right now (but instead just drew so that we can look at them and imagine eating them all). Here it is:

Christmas cookies

  1. Vanillekipferl, vanilla crests(?) – a true German Christmas classic.
  2. Engelsaugen, angel eyes – despite the somewhat morbid name we would even attempt to run a marathon if it meant we could eat a whole tin of those pretty jam-topped butter cookies.
  3. Butterplätzchen, butter cookies – we love the ones with a simple egg glaze (no sprinkles, please) that almost melt in your mouth – bonus points for duck shapes!
  4. Spritzgebäck, spritz cookies – the ones dipped in dark chocolate are divine! We wouldn’t mind a plain one, either.
  5. Schwarz Weiß Gebäck, black and white cookies – they’re the perfect combination of a vanilla and a chocolate cookie – in one bite!
  6. Zimtsterne, cinnamon stars – yes, please! There can never be too much cinnamon on Christmas… and the rest of the year!
  7. Mürbeteigplätzchen, shortcrust cookies – if they sport some nice lemon icing we’re in!
  8. Walnussplätzchen, walnut cookies – we add walnuts to our oatmeal every morning… we wouldn’t mind adding a walnut cookie instead.
  9. Kokosmakronen, coconut mounts – even though we’re mostly team coconot, the duck and I wouldn’t say ‘no’ to this Christmas classic.
  10. Lebkuchenkekse, German gingerbread cookies – they’re like a crunchy version of German gingerbread, but without the commitment!

What are your favorite Christmas cookies?