Willkommen Sie meinen Blog

Welcome to my Blog, I'm glad you stopped by. I thought a little introduction was in order after I reviewed some Blogs of others and didn't have a clue what it was their Blog was about even after reading the last several posts. Not that it matters, if you like what I write, read on, if not, no harm no foul.

I began writing again after one of my grad classes last summer inspired me to do so. It was a class on the world famous author, Stephen King and it was incredible. In 2011 I received my Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. My undergraduate degree is also from UNCW in Sociology with a minor in Gerontology which I obtained in 2005.

A lot has changed since I began writing this Blog in 2010. I am rediscovering who it is that I am and what makes me happy. Feel free to read through from the beginning and see where I have come from and continue to follow along as I begin a new chapter in my life, one that proves to be interesting and filled with exciting challenges that I can't wait to share with the World. So for now, "Das ist Leben"...this is life!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Hello Stuttgart"

Me on the Street Car

On Saturday, Oct 16th we headed out for a full day of exploring the beautiful downtown Stuttgart area. Sitting near the Neckar River and ringed by verdant forests and vineyards, Stuttgart is the capital of the state in which we live, Baden-Württemberg, located in south western Germany.

We arrived outside the Patch Barracks gate around 8:30 am, it was a cold and rainy day. Our tour guide, Ingrid Arnold was already waiting for the group under her black umbrella, she reminded me of Mary Poppins. 

Ingrid Arnold, Tour guide


Since this was our first USO tour, we didn't really know what to expect. We followed Ingrid to the bus stop along with the other seven tourists and prayed for the sun to roll out and greet the day. The sun never did shine its glorious light upon our heads, but we still marched on from bus to train to street car to cable car…we had quite an adventure exploring Stuttgart.

Cable Car
We have traveled by bus and train since we've been here in Germany but this was our first experience on the Street and Cable cars. The view at the top of the hill from the Cable Car was breathtaking even in all the rain and chilly weather. It was funny to see the driver switch seats from one end of the car to the other when we went up and then back down the hill again. We found a pretty famous restaurant along the way but I didn't get the name. Ingrid compared the Chef to Emeril Lagasse. Maybe we'll check it out for dinner sometime and let you know how it was.

After we took a ride on the street car, we followed the train to the Hauptbahn station (Main Train Station) to get to the Stadtmitte (downtown).

Matt on the Street Car

Once we arrived in down town Stuttgart there were so many things to see and even on a rainy day, so many people out and about. One thing we learned was Germans really love their umbrellas and do not pay attention to who or what they hit with them...beware, you may lose an eye!

Huge Advent Calendar!
We walked through a few different department stores, a fresh bakery, and then the most amazing four story toy store I had ever seen. Toys R Us would be no competition for Kurtz Speilwaren. Founded by Carl-Wilhelm Kurtz in 1833, this is the oldest company in Stuttgart and the largest toy store in Germany. Each level has a different theme, there is even a model train floor with tracks set up to "play" with. I enjoyed the dress up and puzzle/game sections while Matt explored the model-car center.

After our brief stop in the the toy store, we strolled along cobblestone roads exploring the Old Medieval, and the New Baroque Castles of Stuttgart. 

There was a beautiful church inside the grounds of the old castle but an orchestra was having rehearsal so we were unable to enter.


The Old Castle (Altes Schloss) is located in the centre of Stuttgart, It dates back to the 10th century.

 The first castle dated back to around 950 when Stuttgart was a settlement for breeding horses. In the 14th century it became the residence of the sovereign Counts of Württemberg. In the 16th century dukes Christopher and Ludwig ordered it to be converted into a Renaissance castle. Moats around the castle were removed in the 18th century.

In 1931 the castle was severely damaged by a fire and before it could be reconstructed it was damaged by bombing in the Second World War. The castle was finally renovated in 1969. Today the Old Castle is home to the Württemberg State Museum.

King Charles I of Württemberg and his wife Olga are buried beneath the castle church. The inner courtyard houses a monument to Eberhard I. The Old Castle stands adjacent to its replacement, the New Castle, which was built in the late 18th century.

On the Karlsplatz side of the Old Castle is a museum dedicated to the memory of Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg a former resident of Stuttgart who attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler on 20 July 1944.

The 'New Castle' on Schlossplatz built between 1746 and 1807

Monument of Eberhard I in the Altes Schloss in Stuttgart

Eberhard I of Württemberg (11 December 1445, Urach – 24 February 1496, Tübingen). From 1459 till 1495 he was count as Eberhard V. From July 1495 he was the first Duke of Württemberg. He is also known as Eberhard im Bart (Eberhard the Bearded).

Fountain in front of New Castle

The history of Stuttgart Germany hosts several important inventions. Two of these include the creation of the motorcycle, and the four-wheeled automobile. The city was the start of the automotive industry and car manufacturing remains prominent in it today. Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Maybach are all made in Stuttgart. Additionally, the first design of the Volkswagen Beetle was produced there. Further cementing Stuttgart's importance as an economic center is its stock exchange--it's the second largest in the nation behind Frankfurt's. As a result of this, many important German companies keep their headquarters in Stuttgart.

The Farmer's Market

              Käse (cheese) at the Stuttgart Market Hall 
One of the most beautiful market halls in Germany, art nouveau, built 1912 to 1914 in place of the old vegetable hall as a grocery exchange and warehouse. Frescos by Gref and Häbich. Daily fresh flowers, fish, meat, vegetables and fruit as well as exotic fruits and spices. Small restaurant and gallery on the 1st floor with a view of what's going on.

Mediterranean ambiance
Behind the heavy entrance doors of this grand art nouveau building right next to the dignified Old Castle and the Collegiate Church, a paradise of lucullan pleasures is hidden: Fruit and vegetables from around the world, fresh dates, Spanish Kaki fruits, Greek peaches and tomatoes from Lanzarote, but also German potatoes and fresh Filder cabbage in barrels are offered in an appetizing manner.

There are 44 different stands in the market hall today. That's only a few in comparison with the 430 sales stands in the beginning in 1912. But the hectic from then and the narrow aisles between the stands hasn't decreased. Since 1989 in the gallery there has been a gourmet restaurant which has become a true culinary meeting place. The specialties and gourmet temple has become a special kind of warehouse with its tempting offers for living and garden culture and further attractive shops. 

Gourmet shop with an exotic flair 
At any time of the year in abundance, diverse and colorful, the market hall presents the impressive offers artistically and appetizingly arranged, native products harmoniously lie next to international and ecological-biological products - apples next to oranges, avocados in front of pineapples, asparagus on spinach, cauliflower in front of Chinese cabbage. With all this diversity, everything has one thing in common: everything is always fresh and of the best quality.  

Here you find among other things cheese specialties from France, Italy and Switzerland, traditional Dutch cheeses, aromatic and mild mold cheeses - here milk and honey flow. Aceto Balsamico and the best oils, pumpkin seeds, figs and dates, honey mead and Turkish honey, delicious spreads for bread and exotic salads, Baklawa (Lebanese Version of Baklava) and Tiramisu, spices and herbs - a touch of the Mediterranean and the Orient blows through the spacious halls. 

The finest fish and meat
Daily the fish from the North Sea and the Black Forest trout come fresh to the market hall, once a week fish, shellfish and crustaceans from the Atlantic and the Mediterranean are taken from the Parisian hypermarket. Smoked fish, fish pastry and salads supplement the demanding offer. Poultry, meat and sausages of a high quality are always a standard in the market hall, eggs from open land chickens are a matter of course. Also lovers of specialties like horse and lamb meat will find what they're looking for here, and whoever asks will also receive tips and recipes for cooking.

Fresh Gemüse (veggies)

I had to buy something in this amazing market so I tried some Swiss Emmentaler Cheese. It was pretty good but kind of hard.

Bier break!

The city's cultural vibrancy owes the most to the Staatstheater and Staatsgalerie. The Staatsgalerie is a world-class museum while the Staatstheater hosts an opera house and three smaller theaters. Within you'll find ballet, opera, concerts, and theater productions. For five years in a row, the Stuttgart Opera won the "Opera of the Year" award.

Those looking for palatial accommodations will not be disappointed. More than one luxury hotel in Stuttgart Germany is available to the traveler with a generous budget. The Le Meredien Stuttgart is an international five star resort that overlooks Schlossgarten Park. Both suites and regular rooms are available. Another luxury hotel in Stuttgart Germany is the Steigenberger Graf Zeppelin which is also located near the city center.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!

The residents of Stuttgart awoke to their first snow fall of the 2010 Winter Season this chilly morning in Germany. The temperature was a whopping 37 degrees (Fahrenheit) but that didn’t stop the 2-3 hour snow fall. Much of it didn't stick to the roads, but the rooftops and grassy areas were blanketed with just enough of the "white stuff" to wish for more!

The children skipped to school with their mouths open side tongues in the air, catching snowflakes while Moms trotted along several feet behind holding an umbrella and shaking her heads in disbelief; it’s only November 22nd!

Can you see the bicycle covered by the snow?

I broke out the Holiday Music today and now I'm looking forward to putting up our Christmas Tree and baking Gingerbread Cookies!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Parmesan & Garlic Chicken ala Mandy!

I've been pretty busy with grad school, working on the house, applying for jobs, dealing with an injured back, and filing the household goods claim from hell with God only knows who (I've spoken with so many different people from too many different agencies, for all I know Santa Claus will be replacing our damaged items!) HOWEVER...I have been kicking butt in the kitchen whipping up some new culinary delights! Here is one of our new favorites...

Parmesan & Garlic Chicken

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
8 bone-in chicken breast halves, skinless


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.

2. In a shallow dish or bowl, pour the Parmesan Cheese and set aside. Melt Butter in a small saucepan; add Garlic and Worcestershire Sauce and sauté garlic until tender. Remove from heat.

3. Dip chicken breasts in garlic butter mixture, then roll in cheese, coating thoroughly. Place coated chicken in the prepared baking dish. Drizzle with any remaining garlic butter mixture.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.




Friday, November 12, 2010

Veterans Day 2010- Visit to Birkenkopf World War II Memorial

National Veterans Day Ceremony
The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery . The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries. The ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces.

This year for Veterans Day, Matt and I decided to take advantage of being in Germany and check out some history. We found a WWII Memorial in Stuttgart called Birkenkopf. This particualr memorial is in part, a Schuttberg (debris mountain); an artificial hill built from the ruins and rubble from the WWII bombings. 

These types of mountains are more specifically termed "trümmerberg" (rubble mountain) and are known colloquially by various namesakes such as Mont Klamott (Mount Rag), Monte Scherbelino (Mount Shard), and Scherbelberg (Shard Mountain). Most major cities in Germany have at least one Schuttberg.

At an altitude of 511m (1,676 feet) above sea level, the Birkenkopf Memorial reaches 40m (131 feet) and lies in the Stuttgart-West city region, only about a 20 minute drive from our house. The weather was perfect for a hike up this massive trail.

I couldn't decide how to feel as we began our ascent to the top; the trail was beautiful and the view of the city was magnificent. 

I tried to think about the reason this memorial was built in the first place; there had been a war, cities were destroyed, thousands of lives were lost, and we were climbing our way to the top of a hill which was created out of the rubble left after the war. 

We could see that there was a large cross on top of the hill once we hit the half way point. It gave me a sense of peace, a calm feeling came over my mind and I knew this place was not meant to mourn, but to remember. To remember the goodness still left in mankind, and the grace of God no matter how often we lose faith. I couldn't wait to reach the top.

Anyone else see an arrow pointing to the heavens?

Between 1953 and 1957, 15 million cubic metres of rubble from 53 bombing missions during World War II were built on top of the hill, which resulted in an increase in height of around 40 metres. At the summit there are many recognizable facades from the ruined buildings.

The locals colloquially call the Birkenkopf "Monte Scherbelino", which roughly translates as "Mount Shards" but in childlike language. One of the pieces of rubble has a plaque attached to it, which says: Dieser Berg nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg aufgetürmt aus den Trümmern der Stadt steht den Opfern zum Gedächtnis den Lebenden zur Mahnung. This translates roughly as: This mountain was built after the Second World War from the rubble of the town to stand as a memorial of the dead and a warning to the living.

From the summit the whole city centre can be seen, and on a clear day the view extends to the Swabian Alb, to the Black Forest, and the lowlands of Württemberg. On the summit there is a steel cross, which in 2003 replaced the original 1953 wooden cross. In the summer, early morning services are sometimes held here.

This was an amazing adventure; one we found only minutes from home. I am so thankful for the sacrifices made by our service members of the past and I will never forget them. They paved the way for the freedoms we as Americans enjoy today and those same freedoms are being defended even as you're reading this Blog post. Always keep our military and their loved ones in your prayers, I know I do. God Bless America!
Das ist Leben!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy 235th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps

What it means to me, to be the wife of a U.S. Marine

Marine Corps ball 2010

Being a Marine Corps wife means being flexible and resourceful at all times, with as little notice and resources as possible. It means moving to new places every three years which means making new friends, finding a new job, and claiming damaged household goods…every three years. As the wife of a Marine we learn how to fix things around the house even if we don’t know the name of the tool used to do the job. We change our own flat tires, sometimes even the oil, and make sure the tread is still “good” before making an eight-hour road trip across the Country in the dead of winter to visit family while hubby is deployed. 


It means mailing Christmas cards to APO’s and PCS’s to friends far away; baking cookies and delivering them to wounded warriors around the holidays. We teach our children to say “sir, and ma’am” and raise our sons to open doors for ladies. There will always be tears to cry and bills to pay, but at the end of the day, seeing those boots at the front door makes me think of one thing: they are worn by a U.S. Marine who fights for my freedom, salutes the American flag, and will forever and always hold the key to my heart.

God Bless the Marine Corps
Semper Fidelis,
Mandy Lyman

Daughter of a U.S. Marine Corps LtCol (Ret), and proud wife of a U.S. Marine Sgt.

Monday, October 18, 2010

165th Stuttgart Cannstatter Volksfest

Ich Liebe Pommes

The Cannstatter Volksfest, known as the "Stuttgart Beer Festival" to many Americans, is the second largest beer festival in the world; the Oktoberfest in München is the largest.


"Big Corn"


Matt enjoying Schnapps

"The Giant Hamburger"

Simona, Tonya, Me

Matt and I went to this fest twice since it's where we live...just a short train ride to the Wasen (fest grounds). Oktoberfest in Germany is nothing like an American festival, at least none that I've ever been to, and I've been to TONS! Once we arrived at the festival on Sunday the 10th, we enjoyed some Pommes and Steak Brötchens with our new friends; our next door neighbor Tonya and her friends Jim and Simona were our escorts. This was the final day of the festival and it was pretty packed; I have a feeling it was because of the nice weather. The first time we visited it was opening day, and it rained on us the entire time.

Inside the Beer Tent

We met a "Bachelor Party" on the train

Matt & Tonya eating Steak Brötchens

The Grille