Weleda in den USA

Imagine my surprise, way back in January (gah, I really am suffering from some serious blog-block) , while searching through a pile of discounted gift sets in Target when I found:

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Weleda is a Swiss-German, all-natural cosmetic company that’s widely available in Germany. I first came across it at our local DM (German rite-aid) and tried a bunch of their lotions and washes. While none of them measured up to my favorite brand back home, I liked the rose scent enough to make it my go to Pflegedusche (easily one of my favorite German words. No I can’t explain why. Just say it PFFFLAY-GUH DUUUUSH-UH)

The pomegranate set was the only one and there were no signs indicating where it had come from or where its companions had gone. Nostalgia – or possibly just the power of Target – took over and I tossed it in my cart.

Then a few weeks later, I read about another Weleda product on Refinery29. Their Hautcreme – oddly known as “Skin Food” auf English – was apparently the thing to use on overworked model skin, and apparently, readily available at my local Whole Foods. So I set off on a little recon mission to see what else I could find.

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und..

IMG_3316It took me two trips before I could stop thinking about how much less expensive it is in Germany. I still can’t convince myself to pay their prices for Dr. Hauschka. Its expensive even in Germany, highway robbery here.

Despite the fact that I paid twice as much for my tube of Hautcreme, I’m very glad I did. Tis is the lotion to end all lotions. Wen your hands are so dry you can feel them cracking, when you think you can see scales, just slather this on (Its oily. Do it when you have a few minutes to wait for it to absorb) and in a few minutest our hands will magically look human again. Do it a few more times and your hands will look almost as nice as they did before you started potty training.

Of course, right after I gave in at Whole Foods, I saw this at Target. More Weleda! and much better prices than Whole Foods — as if that needed to be said.

I probably won’t buy anymore regular lotion – too thin for me – but I will still check back every once in a while to see if anymore of my regular german products pop up on American shelves. At least until I can get back to Germany. Then, I’m bringing an empty suitcase and stocking up. Vividrin Akut Augentropfen I’m looking at you…or not the pollen may have swollen my eyes shut.

The Orange Circle

Somehow the stars alined and I managed to finally get Jon to go down to Old Town Orange with me and possibly browse a few antique stores.

It was, however, too much for these stars to ensure that S would also be so willing. Either way, we still got to walk around a city’ish environment and poke around. We also got surprisingly good barbecue.

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We just happened to park right across the street from Smoqued, a restaurant that bills itself as “classic BBQ with a California influence.” Although the only obviously California part of the restaurant was the list of local beers and the gentrified surroundings. Jon is counting the days until he can have the brisket sandwich again. I liked the smoked chicken – S liked it more – and I’m intrigued by the promise of hand rolled pretzels.

Having an almost three year old tagging along deterred me from poking around the antique shops that dot the circle and seem to be the main draw of Old Town Orange, if not for tchotchkes than at least for those pretzels.

 

disney store, south coast plaza

One of the activities I lined up for S and I’s alone time included a visit to the grand re-opening of the local Disney Store. Having never done something like this before, I thought arriving twenty minutes early would be more than enough. I even felt sheepish walking into the mall that early until I saw the enormous crowd hovering around the Disney entrance. Apparently, twenty minutes early is only enough to get you into the back-up line; we were ushered by some very cheerful people to another area in the mall, behind an escalator. A “cast member” told me that people had been waiting since before 7am. 7AM! I’m a little scared to find out what these people would do when actually at Disneyland.

We waited for forty minutes to get into the store – only after we were moved from B-line to A-line did I realize that we had been waiting to go into a store that we could simple stroll into any other day of the week and have more or less the same experience. S had a good time, though, and she was so well behaved that it had me thinking that Disneyland might not be such a bad idea. Then I came to my senses and decided to save that one for the grandparents.

(I also may or may not still be terrified of people in animal costumes.)

One thing that really struck me while waiting in that line wasn’t the way the children were behaving, it was the adults. While we were waiting, employees handed out mouse ears and sticker sheets to keep the kids happy. The kids. You know, they’re really little and have short attention spans. It was the kids who were begging for more toys – it was the adults. I was appalled by the number of parents who did not ask, but demanded more free stuff, sometimes out right lying to get it. There was a family of five standing in front of me and they were handed five mouse ears. The mother stuffed two hats in her purse and shouted for two more. She counted the members for her party and held out her hand in perfect disdain, trying to make the man feel stupid enough to hand out more. He paused for minute, obviously remembering that he had handed her five hats just a few minutes ago, before handing her a few more with a shrug. Then there were the parents who walked up to the woman handing out sticker sheets to the kids,pausing to ask them about their favorite Disney movies, demanding she hand them multiple sheets. No one said please or thank you. It was just “need” or “want.” It was just so odd to see… and a little embarrassing.

It was another moment of culture shock and one I really wasn’t expecting. Is it California? The US? Or does free stuff just bring out the worst in people?

At least we put our stickers to good use.

;

;

a little splurge

The cuter the clothing; the faster S will grow out of it.

So I have  a rule: I will only spend 20EUR or less on any one article of clothing. Its just high enough that I don’t feel completely tied to boring tees, but I still sometimes have trouble pulling out my wallet when I realize how much that is in USD or when I think to hard about how dirty it will get or whether or not it will last more than a month. I’ve stuck by this rule for two years. This rule and I were very committed.

Then I found myself in front of the children’s clothes at COS and I couldn’t resist. Aren’t the yellow polka dots adorable?

checking out her new “dweth”

 I bought it one size up thinking that she would wear it in California, knowing that I’ll miss COS like crazy among the flip-flops and Ed Hardy shirts, but I don’t think she’s going to let me pack it just yet.

caught mid-twirl

 

adventures in brandenburg

Yesterday, we headed deep into the heart of Brandenburg. No, not really. Not at all, actually. We just went to Spandau and Elstal, but it was far enough away from our apartment that I  almost felt a little homesick by the end of the day. I mean, who wouldn’t be homesick for the rude glare of the Berliners? (In all fairness, the sunny weather is making them a bit more congenial)

Spandau was incorporated into Berlin in the 1920s. It still feels like a small town and is actually older than Berlin proper by about 60 or so years. I hear the Spandauers are very proud of this. We didn’t spend enough time there to really find out. The major sight there is the Zitadelle (Citadel), a medieval fortress that protected the town from invaders. It did not, however, protect Spandau from Shoshana.

Afterwards we walked towards the Altstadt, but not being in the mood for the usual German sights (Altmarkt, Kirche, Rathaus) we went straight to the train station and hopped on an RE train to Elstal or, as it was conveniently  labeled at its very humble train station, Designer Shopping Outlet. I am terrible at taking detail/every day life sort of pictures, so you’ll just have to believe me when I say that Elstal consists of one track and a bus to the mall.
The outlet mall is actually pretty for a mall. The buildings are all finished with Baroque German touches.
You’ll just have to take my word for it.
It was here that we had the most exciting and maybe even the most  German part of the day. We went to the Adidas factory store. Yes, we went to the Adidas factory store on a Saturday in Germany and we made it out alive. It was possibly the craziest shopping experience I’ve ever had in Germany, a place where even during Christmas-time the stores weren’t really that busy, at least not to my American standards.
Our patience was rewarded with a blurry U-Bahn photo and these adorable shoes…
I picked up two new pairs, as well, and all together our three pairs cost less then one pair at the retail store. Hurrah! Totally worth leaving Berlin even if there is very little in the way of cultural attractions (or anything else for that matter).
Getting to the outlet center is super easy. Just take the RE4 from Hauptbahnhof to Elstal or, if you want to add a little substance to your day, take the U7 to Spandau and spend some time walking around.

for my berliner baby: schleich tiere

Many parents are familiar with Schleich – especially now that you can buy them at Target in the States. Here, in their homeland, they’re even more popular and you can find huge displays of them in every toy store. They’re surprisingly sturdy (someone has a tendency to fling them from her highchair) and some of them are hand-finished.

We let S pick out a new one every once in a while. Sometimes because she’s been really well-behaved, like after going to the doctor or a long train ride, and sometimes just because. As you can see above, she has varied tastes.

Elephants keep the best secrets

She is very into creating little families with her “animuhs.” Today, Horsey was in love with Donkey. Yesterday, St. Bernard and Dalmatian had adopted Donkey as their baby.  It makes me really happy to watch S play with them, and I’m glad we’ll be able to add to our menagerie back in the States. I’m already dreading how she’s going to readjust. It will make a huge difference to have some familiar things to bribe her with. 

samstag in friedrichshain

We spent Saturday wandering around a new Kiez, Freidrichshain. I expected to be be greeted by a neighborhood of gruff old Ossis and squatters. I had no idea how gentrified it had become. I mean, we didn’t even have the biggest stroller at the farmer’s market. Can you believe it? That is some serious gentrification, Leute!

view from Warschauerstr

We started our journey at S-Bhf Warschauerstr where I spotted, but did not photograph, a stunning example of a Hipster Dad pushing a stroller. He was wearing an ironic sweater vest, tweed, and a carefully tied to look as if it had not been carefully tied scarf. When I saw him, I knew I were entering surprisingly familiar territory. We did go to NYU, after all.

rununculus at the Boxhagnerplatz Markt

Our first stop was the Wochenmarkt, which is basically just a farmer’s market that extends beyond meat and produce. We didn’t buy anything, because I kept insisting that we didn’t know how long we would be out and what if our organic buffalo went bad? OMG, WE CAN BUY ORGANIC BUFFALO IN BERLIN?! The yuppie food gods have answered my prayers. While I was thinking about buffalo au poivre, Shoshana was doing this…

Why do so many German playgrounds have giant, completely-intentional, puddles? One day I’ll post a picture of the water-area in our local playground. I like to refer to it as “The Pit of Death.”

Eventually we lured her away and made our way over to Karl-Marx-Alle to check out the TrendMafia Designmarkt and take some pictures.

The boulevard is lined with Stalinist era wedding-cake style buildings. I find the tiles pretty ugly, but there’s no doubt this was meant to be a very grand street. There’s still some of that atmosphere today; although, many of the buildings need a bit of a facelift. Some new tiles here, a power-washing there.

I also like spotting some of the socialist art. The worker above is guarding a door with his sledge hammer.

We were really looking forward to going to the Karl-Marx-Bookstore, because silly us we thought it was still there. No! It went out of business FOUR YEARS AGO and somehow this information managed to escape us. Our hearts are broken. Ok, maybe just mine. Jon is not nearly as dramatic.

At least the sign is landmarked, and the shelves inside were just like they use to be, even if they were depressingly empty. I think some sort of production company works there now. oh, gentrification, you raise me up and you pull me down. sigh.*

*See? I did say I was dramatic. And, yes, I know I’m part of that gentrification, too.

a “burr-burr”

I’ve been looking for something to keep my wedding/engagement rings since we got here. Something inexpensive, something of a souvenir, but not terribly fragile. Then I saw this post on ohjoy! and knew I had my answer.

Too bad somebody else loves it more than I could ever imagine.

She calls it her “Burr-Burr.” I guess I’ll have to keep looking.

DDR egg cup purchased at Berlin Story on Unter den Linden.