November 30, 2010


The walk around the pond this morning was accompanied by a call to my cousin Marianne in Germany.  We talked the entire 40 minute walk, and had a great time chatting, Happy Birthday, Marianne!

Matthew discovered my webcam and google-chat yesterday.  We video-chatted with Cathie and  Thomas, saw the pigeon that lives in their Christmas wreath on their door (I want photos, please).  Thomas went and got it, and we saw it with our own eyes!
After that chat, Matthew wanted to chat some more with someone else. And requested a web-cam.
I got back, and he already tried to chat with me --- see above, I was out.
I created a chat-addict!

On another note, I follow a very interesting blog Annekata, and in this entry she makes these beautiful stars.  I remember making them as a child for the Christmas tree out of gold paper foil, and her blog entry reminded me of that.  I happen to have 12" square white craft paper, and I made two stars so far, and they came out beautiful.  All that's left to do is to attached red thread (of course!), and to find a place to hang.
Thank you, Annekata!

November 28, 2010

Advent, Christmas, presents....

And it's Sunday.  I'm working on Christmas presents.  I am making crib sheets for Evan, as requested by his Mom.  He spits up a lot, and she has to change the sheets constantly.  I got some cute flannel fabric for $1.29/yard, and am making them (how hard could it be to make a crib sheet?).  Good thing I told his mother, because the first thing she said was 'you are putting elastic all the way around?'.
No, I wasn't, but now I am!
A friend was over yesterday, not feeling on top of the world with heartache, and as she was resting on the couch, I got my artificial Christmas tree up.  All done and decorated.

And I'm making bibs for the spit-up baby, and maybe..... well, I better not give all my secrets away!

 Hungry squirrels that came to my door.  The big chunk of birdseed fell apart, and they came to eat the leftovers.

 The crib sheets, bundled together with strips sewn together from the corners, totally green!
 My Christmas tree
 vintage ornament
 Some of my favorites

November 25, 2010

And.... it's done!

Table before everyone came, and then Jessica was twirling in the kitchen for us.

Jessie and Evan
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Having dinner, pass the rolls, please

Chuck, me and Greg 

 The original four
Enough turkey?


Jackson - just woke up

November 24, 2010

getting serious

Working on the gravy.  And setting an extra plate!  Chuck will be joining us!
(Sue drove with her parents and Noah to visit her sister, and since Chuck has to work Saturday, I asked him if he'd consider coming up, and yes, he wanted to.)
And you just know he'll mess with my cooking....


The cranberry sauce is made.  The lumpy and the smooth.  I had to do the smooth cranberry sauce over, since it wouldn't jell the first time.
Table is done, the leaves are in.  The tablecloth picked out, the dishes picked out, and I got a pumpkin shaped salt and pepper set from Beth - thank you, Beth!
I just made some ricotta cheese.  I was aghast to see how absolutely easy it is to make ricotta!  It never occurred to me to make it myself, until I happened to see the recipe by the Barefoot Contessa.  Easy!
4 cups milk
2 cups cream
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons white vinegar.

Bring milk and cream to an almost boil - 180 F, and just about to 100 C.
Take off the heat and add 3 tablespoons white vinegar.  Let rest for a minute or so, then gently pour into a cheesecloth covered drainer.  Let drain, squeeze out as much moisture as you like after letting it drain, and you're done!  You can use it for lasagna, or stuffed shells, or, if you don't add too much salt, for cheese cake, or cannelloni...
I happened to see 3 pounds of ricotta cheese in the grocerey for $9+, that's insane!

Anyway, since I don't drink a lot of milk (none), and I had some at home because the kids were supposed to visit but didn't, I found this awesome use for the milk which I would have poured down the drain.
Okay, tonight make the gravy and the stuffing, prepare the brussels sprouts (Rosenkohl), and I'm set.

November 21, 2010

Pre-Thanksgiving Visit

We got all the kids together on Friday evening - all my grandchildren so far.  Isn't that exciting?  I think it is.We went for serious, and then they were allowed to goof around.    What a fun group it is!
And here are the proud Moms:

And it was too late in the evening to go for a formal portrait, I'm so happy with this one!
One family was busy for the weekend, so the rest of the group met to go to a Childrens Museum, where everyone had fun.  
Nicole with the 'hooter hider'.  Really.  That's what it's called, the cloth to cover yourself and baby when you nurse.

And here he is, up until now the youngest.  Isn't he cute?

And two little boys, looking like they are the best of friends (which really, they were) back at home, playing with Play-dough.
And Noah and his Mom and Nibby, the German Sheppard, went home this morning to pick Daddy up from the airport.  He is eagerly awaited by the whole family, having been away for work for almost two weeks.
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November 16, 2010

Great News!

Noah will have a little sister (likely), or a little brother!  In May, around his Dad's birthday.
I am totally excited and I still can't believe I'm a grandmother.  And I can't wait to find out, will the new baby have his/her mother's amazing blue eyes, or his/her father's hazel/green/brown ones?  Will he/she look like Noah, which is mostly his Dad, or will he/she look like her/his mother?  Exciting times - and yes, I know, main thing it's a healthy baby and not a preemie like his/her brother.

And Noah and his Mom will come visit this weekend.  It'll be so much fun to have him here, and I love spending time with both.

And I will host Thanksgiving this year, the first time in a long time.
It will be like I had it 40 years ago, with few changes.  My mother-in-law was an amazing hostess, who set a gorgeous holiday table, so did her mother, as well as her sister-in-law.  And since I first experienced Thanksgiving in New England, a New England Thanksgiving it will be.  I am sure Thanksgivings are similar all over the US, some families experiment with their recipes, change things around, some families serve Kielbasa and Sauerkraut along with the turkey, some families will have Lasagna or stuffed shells, all depending on their heritage.
My son-in-law Jim tried the stuffed shells one Thanksgiving, along with all the traditional dishes, and only Nicole and he ate some, the rest of us being traditionalists.
But, I might just give in and add some stuffed shells, since Matthew, when asked what he would like on Thanksgiving said 'Stuffed Shells' with such enthusiasm that I think I may just make them to have him walking away happy from a Thanksgiving table, and not feeling like he had to be urged to eat things he wasn't happy to eat.  I know Jackson will probably follow suit, and Jim will not have to be urged to try!

Note to self: refill the ice trays!

Other than that, today is a typical November day, drizzly, foggy, and a little bit rainy.  My yard looks like I made no effort whatsoever with the leaves, which so isn't true.

Erika went to parent-teacher conferences, and she told me, that the teacher of Jessica told her that cursive handwriting may not be taught anymore.  Or if taught, no great importance would be put on it, since in today's age you only needed cursive for your signature.  Amazing!
(for the Germans:  cursive is handwriting)
And so true, when was the last time you needed to write something?  I don't mean lists, there it doesn't matter if you print or write.  A postcard?  Just a few notes, doesn't matter again, if handwritten or printed.

Who writes letters anymore?  I know I really haven't, especially since my mother is gone.  And when she was still alive I wrote e-mails.  I took to e-mails like a duck takes to water, I loved it.  And I heard just this morning that young people think e-mail is too formal, the founder of was saying it - young people are annoyed by dredging up a subject, and then ending on a formal note, like 'love...'.    Hence his new enhancements to his service.

Well, those are the thoughts for today.

November 14, 2010

Found it!

Saturday was a total washout for me.  I caught the bug that was going around in Jackson's daycare.  He'd passed it on to his little brother Evan, his Dad and his Mom and was generous enough to share it with me as well.  Not fun, feeling sick, spending almost all day in bed.
But I did want to finish the story or love letter to 'Heimat'.  I was looking for the photos of the house that was built especially for the last series of Heimat.  My brother Claus took me to it, on one of our many excursions in the area.  We'd hop in the car and just go somewhere.  Usually we ended up in the hills over the Rhine River, since it was close and it always spectacular.

 That's Oberwesel
 And this is the house built for Heimat, now it's a restaurant, from what I understand

Of course there are more photos, but these were the ones I was looking for.
My brother and I wandered all over the place.  
And it was quite difficult to find these, since there were lots of visits over the years, and
I didn't remember which year.
More some other time!

November 12, 2010

Some Fotos of 'Home'

From a mountain/hill (depends where you grew up, for some it would be a mountain, for some a small hill)
View is toward the village (now town) where I grew up
This is from the Hunsrueck Museum in Sobernheim
My Mom had wanted to visit.  She'd never been there, and she enjoyed it.
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I had taken the kids there in the 1980's, when the museum first opened.
We liked it a lot, and it has gotten bigger since, and is just a lovely museum - open air -
to visit.
If you live near there, here is the website

Oh, not the Hunsrueck Museum anymore, it's called the Rheinland-Pfalz Museum.
In any case, it's lovely.
More photos, if I find the ones I'm looking for later.

November 11, 2010


Heimat sort of means home.  Supposedly there is no word in English for Heimat.
Heimat was also a TV series in Germany, about the region I grew up in.  It's usually a forgotten area of Germany, not very important, no big industrial area, just woods and fields and some light industry, my brother works for a furniture company, for instance, and there is not a lot that the region would be famous for.

We used to go from one end to the other when we visited, my little town is near the Rhine River, and we drove straight across to the other end by the Saar and Mosel.  We'd visit Trier, one of the oldest cities in Germany, founded by the Romans, go to Mettlach to check out what Villeroy and Boch offered in new china designs, and take pictures at a beautiful curve in the Saar River.

But that's not what I want to talk about.  A long, long time ago I was in a small Theater group, which still exists, by the way, and we'd put on a play maybe once or twice a year.  The founder, director, and driving force behind the theater group had gone to school with the director of 'Heimat'.
And some of the people that were in the group with me, ended up with small parts in 'Heimat'.
I was able to see the first series, I forget how, I had it on VCR tape, and I enjoyed it very much.  And it put the area I come from on the map.  When I run into Germans now, the first question usually is 'where are you from?', and when I say 'Hunsrueck', I used to get a blank look.  And then I had to 'walk' them to my home: make a left in Frankfurt, go across the Rhine, then up a little bit, then drive up the mountain, and you're there.'

 How when I say it, and maybe add 'Heimat', you get the 'oh, yeah'!  (also the series is so long ago, that even that is fading).
I made a life-long friend in the group, we are still in touch, sometimes don't hear from each other in ages, and then pick right up again.  We were the same age when we started in the group, we were the babies, and we loved going out and to dances and all the opportunities we had because of it.

I was in touch with our theater group leader for a while after we all got e-mail, and I enjoyed our exchanges.  And I was shocked when my mother called and told me he had a heart attack and died. I still think of him often.

I loved growing up in that area.  I can still talk in that dialect, which often gets taken for the Frankfurt dialect.  It's so different!  But I guess only people from either Frankfurt or the Hunsrueck can tell the difference.  And every village has slightly different pronunciations and or different words.
And what's really holding me up, is that I can't find the photos I meant to post from that area.  A lot of them have been up, when I visited back in January.

I will keep looking for the photos I meant to put up, I promise!

November 7, 2010

Woods, Light, etc.

Yesterday morning as I was waiting for my helper, I admired the light and colors outside. I happend to spy something outside, so I grabbed my camera and checked. Now, I live in a fairly large community, but it is deceiving. The houses are next to each other, and not all that far apart, but they are surrounded by trees, and we have little spots of woods.
Wildlife wanders in and out, deer, fox, the ocaissional bear, wild turkeys, woodchucks, racoons, skunks, and chipmunk are around. The deer are turning into a pest, and I've come close to hitting one once or twice within the last few weeks.

Well, check out the photo above!

And here is the close-up:

A buck!  And he was chasing a doe around and around a tree.  At which point I decided they needed their privacy.
Now remember: No big walk, no stalking the deer, just out my back door in slippers.  
How awesome is that.

And this because blue is my favorite color.  And against the light: beautiful.
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November 6, 2010


My kitchen will be revamped today.  Help is on the way!  I decided against switching out the counters.  I don't think the granite counters will fit, the pieces are the wrong sizes.  And I like my white counters, nothing wrong with them.
So I will get a new sink, a new faucet (sink and faucet are leaking), and hopefully my dishwasher fixed.  Even though I live alone, I miss the dishwasher.  It works fine, just doesn't drain properly.  It has to be some clog, right?
I made chili yesterday.  And I thought I made enough to have leftovers.  No!  It was so well liked, that every last crumb disappeared.  Jessica and I made corn muffins, and they were scarfed up as well.  The only one a little bit reluctant to try it was Matthew, but even he managed to eat some chili (without the beans).  We are all so ready for the winter dishes!  I announced that meat loaf would appear soon, and everyone was delighted.

And totally random, I've been thinking about this, I want to show some of my old photos.  In this one are my grandparents.  It's their wedding photo, and they got married in 1906.  (OMG, that is a loooong time ago!).

I also should explain, that my mother was their youngest and seventh child.
I do remember my grandparents.  My grandfather was a cobbler (shoe maker), and he still had some of the tools.  My grandmother ran a small grocery store before WWII.  They were evacuated during the war, and their house in Koblenz got hit by a bomb, and burned out.  So there are no memories of my mother's childhood, no dolls or books, nothing survived.
In their retirement they lived with first their firstborn daughter, and then another daughter.  I do remember them well.  I was 16 years old when my grandfather died.
This is my memory of them:

New York Marathon tomorrow.  Which also means: don't forget to turn the clock back!

November 4, 2010


It's raining.  Typical November, I was thinking.

Yesterday was a sunny day, chilly, but clear blue skies, lovely to look at.
On my way to work I drove through a spot of fog.  And before I could get my camera out of my bag, or my camera in my cellphone ready, a beautiful moment passed with the sun shining through the fog.
I drive East every morning, which gives me the wonderful opportunity to drive into the sun on a good day, and it's amazing how many drivers have a problem with that.
It'll all change this weekend, we turn our clocks back.

November 3, 2010


It is starting to be cold.  This morning was the first frost on the car windows.
I had bought a new fleece jacket when I was going to the Finger Lakes.  It was warm, black, and had white fuzzy cuffs and collar.  The white fuzzy cuffs didn't stay white very long.  And they didn't wash white again, either.  It is dirty at work, dust and grime flying through the air, and things get grimy.
It irritated me.  I don't like looking like I don't care about my clothes.  I don't mind getting dirty, but then I want it to come clean, and I want to start my day clean.
So I decided to just cut the fuzzy white cuffs and collar off, and replace them with some other fleece material I have.  The cuffs are done, and I'm happy.  I'm working on the collar.  And I'm wondering what designer thought it'd be a good idea to put long, fuzzy, white cuffs on a black jacket.  (And who is the nut buying it?!)

Good thing I know how to get out of those kinds of jams.

November 2, 2010

Old Times

To my post on Halloween I received a comment.  And I would like to address it.
When we grew up, our school was segregated into Protestants and Catholics.  And the division ran pretty deep. Actually, I also should add, that some of the surrounding villages were either totally Catholic, or totally Protestant.  Without going into the history of the region too deeply, the division went back to the original owners of the land.  Parts of the area I grew up in belonged to the Diocese of Mainz, part of it to the barons of Simmern, some of it to the Diocese of Trier, and so on.  So depending on who had ownership of a specific area, the inhabitants were either Catholic or Protestant.  The barons of Simmern gave the people under their stewardship the choice, either protestant or catholic.
And up until the time I grew up, most of the people stayed within their traditions.
It  was still a scandal and drama when a protestant boy and a catholic girl got together.
I remember a good friend of mine, she fell in love with a protestant boy, ended up having to marry him, and, 40 years later, her mother is still mentioning it as one of her 'sins' to have married someone protestant.
It was a very strong line, and it took us a long time to realize that those lines were totally artificial.
I'm happy to say that those particular divisions have mostly disappeared.


Yesterday I was so cold all day.  I couldn't get warm.  Today I am wearing long knee stockings with sneakers, a pear of heavy-weight sweat pants, a warm top, a turtleneck cotton sweater and a heavy-weight fleece jacket.  I'm warm.

November 1, 2010


Halloween is over, and I'm kinda glad.  Not my favorite 'holiday'.  I didn't grow up with Halloween and the 31. of October is Reformation Day in Germany.  Used to be a holiday in the state I grew up in, then anyone who was protestant could take time off from work and go to church.
The 31st of October is the day that Martin Luther nailed the 95 thesis to the door of the Church in Wittenberg, Germany, which started the whole 'revolution' and separation from the Catholic Church.

My mother had a very religious upbringing.  She was not very religious herself, when we grew up, but the feeling and the traditions were very much present in our house.  So 'Reformation Day' was celebrated, my father started the day by singing 'Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott'  - A mighty fortress is our God -, which was sung later in church. (He used to love to wake us up by singing loudly through the house).
Of course the more catholic All Souls Day was the day after - today.  Which also points out that the two - catholic and protestant - were very much divided when I was growing up.  We were even separated in school, grades 1, 2, 3 and 4 protestant in one room, and the same grades next door catholic.  We were the last class to be divided like that, and mass classes also disappeared after we graduated elementary school.
Very little house on the prairie!