Archives for category: Germany

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What to pack for a long weekend: Beauty & Rx

Being over 50 has some new guidelines for what is necessary to take on a long weekend for beauty & Rx medicine categories. Here is a bullet wardrobe reminder of what I “need” to be comfortable on a long weekend–that still comfortably fits into my one small suitcase. I rely on travel sized items, beauty samples, and premiums–those nice little extras that come with a cosmetic purchase. I also rely on my favorite brands and their special travel-sized, age/skin-type related items–I usually purchase some as I see the kits available, as well as ask for some as a gift idea every year! My go to is Clinique–the comfort of knowing how it smells (or doesn’t smell) as well as how my skin feels when I use it makes it part of my travel routine. You will see that I use many other brands for other “must-have” items, but I always come back to Clinique for the foundation of my skin care routine.

Here’s the bullet wardrobe reminder list:

  • Cleanser
  • Eye makeup remover
  • Toner
  • Serum (only the small format bottle, the larger serum stays at home)
  • Eye cream
  • Moisturizer
  • Moisturizer with Sunscreen for daytime
  • Sunscreen, sensitive skin
  • Eye primer (Urban Decay)
  • Concealer
  • Eye shadow set (usually just one, but sometimes two–I will use any brand with the right combination)
  • Eye liner
  • Eyebrow pencil (found a great version for salt and pepper haircolor–Bobby Brown!)
  • Urban Decay 24 hour makeup setting spray (only brand I use and it is a lifesaver, since I use layers of moisturizer around my eyes)
  • Mascara
  • Blush, cream stick in perfect neutral for me
  • Zambeezi lip Balm (favorite brand)
  • Lip color, gloss, stick in my wear everywear neutral (find your perfect neutral–don’t use someone else’s–because then it’s not perfect on You!)
  • Brushes, cotton balls, cotton swabs (Q-tips, because I wouldn’t know what a cotton swab was)
  • Extra washcloth or two (I can’t tell you how many times I wanted an extra washcloth and couldn’t seem to get one from housekeeping at midnight, or in a pensione sometimes they are really rough)
  • Hairspray (I only like Dove right now)
  • Small travel size shampoo & conditioner (just in case they provide a pump of all-in-one gel in the shower)
  • Spare bobby pins, hair comb (just in case need to put hair up and look a little more “evening”)
  • Brush
  • Toothbrush, paste, floss, picks
  • Eye drops–for allergies, dry eyes
  • Extra contacts, in case glasses get lost/broken
  • Shaving gear (I know, at my age?!!)
  • Medicine: allergies, chronic conditions, aging stuff (we’ll talk later), migraine, muscle relaxers, ibuprofen
  • Aloe Vera gel, with lidocaine (good for more than the occasional sunburn!)
  • Disposable wipes for whatever needs wiping (door knobs, toilet seats, hands) or many times, if I don’t need the antiseptic element, I use wet paper towels in a zip lock bag–better for the environment, your health, etc.
  • Black Electrical Tape– This is my best secret essential! For people with light sensitivity–inevitably, I am kept awake by the blinking smoke detector light positioned right over “my side” of the bed, or other LED lights that unfortunately, cause migraines

It all fits nice and neat in the usual bags. This is not for carry on bags! We have been traveling by train and car to our destinations, and I have had to check my bag when I fly, due to the small size of the airplanes. So there has been little to no need to do the extra work of a carry-on plan here in Europe. I will do a break down and show a carry-on Beauty & Rx in a later blog post.

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It all fits easily!

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Traveling to Berlin for a weekend had me solving the weather problem: rainy, humid, hot, sunny, and chilly, and windy– all in the course of three days. On top of that, it was my 16th anniversary, so I knew that at least one nice dinner was on the itinerary. Other than a nice dinner, we planned to go to museums, see a memorial to fallen Russian soldiers, see the Berlin Tiergarten Siegessaeule, a monument honoring victories in the “unification” wars. We also planned on seeing Charlottenburg Palace, and hopping a bus over to Potsdam to wander around Sans Souci, built by Friedrich the Great inspired by Versailles. In addition, we couldn’t see Berlin without going to the Helmut Newton museum. So, comfortable shoes were a must — there was so much walking on cobblestones, dirt paths, steps, and streets.

Here’s my bullet wardrobe reminder. I followed prevailing fashion advice, neutrals–white, gray, black–with one predominant accent color–petal pink. After all, it was my anniversary and I certainly wanted to look light and feminine, summery and happy! Additionally, I wore some beautiful Alexis Bittar jewelry that my hubby had purchased for me a few years ago.

  • Rain windbreaker: packable, white
  • Trenchcoat: short, pink, not super waterproof
  • Dress: pewter, lightweight, comfortable, nice enough for most restaurants
  • Pants: white
  • Jeans: black motorcycle
  • T-shirt: floral, Balmain
  • Tank: floral, charcoal
  • Birkenstocks: silver
  • Sneakers: white converse
  • Walking cross trainers: black and white
  • Scarves: microfiber pastel print, pink mesh, linen white print
  • Vintage accessory: charm bracelets

 

A few Berlin highlights: There is a street called Strasse Juni 17th — so if that is your Anniversary date–it’s perfect to celebrate on that street, on that date.

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Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

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Strasse Juni 17th looking at the Seugessaeule, or Victory Memorial. There was a bicycle race that day, Juni 17th!

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The Reichstag — the German capitol building with the flag flying in the wind!

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Flugente, prepared as discussed at the Farmer’s Market in Dornbusch, Frankfurt, Germany.

I had a great time preparing my Flugente [Duck] yesterday and have a list of Things I Learned. First, let me say, the recipe that was shared with me was spot on as far as flavors were concerned. The onion/apple fragrance filled the apartment, then the addition of the duck to the dutch over, took everything to a new level of homey goodness. As I have a terrible habit of trying several new processes at once, I added onto the cooking of this dish the videoing of the process, which, when I have it edited down, I will also provide. So, overall, the dish was a success, my hubby and I ate it with relish, with mostly positive observations. Here is the list of Things I Learned Yesterday:

Negatives

  1. Duck fat should be reserved for Duck Confit, not slished down the drain while you are hurrying for your next video shot. Money wasted about $12 worth of duck fat.
  2. Realizing that you should have saved something when you are just pouring the last spoonful down the drain is priceless. Too bad the forehead slapping and self-loathing were not caught on camera.
  3. Duck is NOT like chicken. One negative phrase regarding the duck skin was “rubbery” and another phrase was, “well, you only really eat the duck breast”….

Positives

  1. Bratapfel liqueur is marvelous! Use it to soak some fresh apple slices to use for garnish, as you might see on the video. Use it in the sauce, it creates the most lovely compliment to duck. I can’t wait to use it over cinnamon ice cream and in some sort of a torte recipe.
  2. Duck is a beautiful dark meat and has a somewhat earthier flavor than chicken. It is also darker in its’ breast than a goose. There are some other techniques for cooking duck that I will try next time to crisp up the skin.
  3. Farmer’s Market is known as Bauern Markt in Deutsche. It is also the easiest way, next to going to the specialty shops, to get the freshest meat, poultry, and produce. They are held weekly and year round.
  4. Videoing with your phone and selfie stick isn’t as simple as you might think. Kudos to all of the great How-To video producers that I see on Instagram!

 

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Flugente very frisch! It’s what’s for dinner tonight!

Today, regardless of the calendar, felt like autumn, Herbst in Deutsch. The clouds settled in yesterday and the dip in temperature and the crunch of dead leaves left no one in doubt of the season. I have been here for nine, almost ten months; waiting for autumn, my favorite season.

Although I have been trying to live every “American in Europe” cliche, today was the first day that I did my shopping, my main shopping on foot, in a local farmer’s market, in our neighborhood. Yes, I have shopped at the big farmer’s market in Konstablerwache, but mostly to take photos and eat waffles. Today, I was armed with a loose idea of a menu:

  1. Poultry
  2. Vegetable
  3. Fruit

I didn’t expect more than four or five rickety stands set up. I thought that there wouldn’t be many people. Ha! There were easily twice or even thrice that many vendors and not one of them in a rickety stand, well, maybe one. Instead, there were highly evolved, refrigerated cases that are part of the trucks themselves. There was fresh fish from one vendor, fresh beef and pork from another. There was a wall of rotisserie chickens roasting happily at one booth. The vegetables were a colorful palette of greens, purples, reds, and orange. Large vegetable stands, at least four of them, renewed my faith in farm-to-table. As I ambled down the center of the street, I saw another refrigerated case, a long, well stocked poultry case. In it was this beautiful bird, labeled flugente. This bird was whispering to me, “cook me”, so I asked in my preschool German, ” Sprechen Sie English? Was is das?”

He said it was “a duck, very frisch!”

“How fresh?” I asked.

“Yesterday night.”

I had hit it. The holy Grail of optimum ingredients. And this, in Dornbusch, after my incredible weekend in Paris.

So, that is how I ended up with the freshest “duck”, [personally, I think it’s a goose], for our dinner. But how to prepare it?

I asked the poultry vendor and a little woman three people down, took over. She started describing a recipe with zwiebeln to anyone who would listen. I know that “zwiebeln” means “onions” and I turned to her and she turned to me, said her English wasn’t that good, and then described how to cook this bird.

Flugente Recipe, by a friendly older woman at the Farmer’s Market

“Onions in fett til tey are soft. Bird in pan and some wasser. Cook til da string runs clear, is det right? string?” She motioned with her hands.

“Juices” I added, then nodded my head for her to continue.

“Then add some Calvados and some cream to deh pan.” She made a whisking motion with her hands.
I nodded. “Got it.” I also squeezed my eyes shut and sighed. Heaven. She continued,

“You can add some apple to the onions, not too much, but to balance. Keep it in the pan.”

Have I said it before? “I love Germany!”

I will post a photo of the end result tomorrow.

I have survived the stress of moving to Germany. Stress listed below:

  1. Packing
  2. Jet lag
  3. Unpacking
  4. Technology set up and streamlined
  5. Learning my new phone number
  6. Mostly learning my new address
  7. Starting to learn a new language
  8. Finding a warm enough coat

The easiest parts:

  1. Apartment, no yard work
  2. Taking bus to language class
  3. Walking to store 2x per week
  4. Using ATM
  5. Taking U-bahn (equivalent to the El in Chicago)

I have discovered that cobblestones come in various strengths. There’s mostly smooth walkways, well-worn and not-level cobblestones, and brutal ragged jagged poorly spaced cobblestones. Good news: our American athletic shoes are in fashion over here finally! Still many folks who don’t wear them, but plenty of teens do. I like to double gel insert my shoes when traveling to the small towns–I’m just sayin’.

The food here also comes in three types: really yummy, meh, and gross. We had a perfectly great dinner at a restaurant, but had ordered the traditional cheese as a “Vorspeise”  or appetizer. It was the texture of paraffin, in a cold watery i-don’t-know-what liquid, with finely chopped white onions over the top. The waiter stood there watching us take our first bite.

The look on my face. That’s why he was watching us take our first bite. Apparently, everyone gets that look of repulsion and horror when they bite into that cheese. I couldn’t keep chewing. I couldn’t spit it out, being diplomatic and all, but I couldn’t keep it in my mouth. That’s how he, the waiter, gets amusement throughout the long winter evenings. He then admitted that he couldn’t eat it and rarely meets anyone who can.

Wine is amazing here and I am talking about the wine that you buy for three to four euros. It’s great, I’m spoiled.

The bread here is on another level from the bread we get at the grocery store in Colorado. And I’m talking about the good bakery bread from Whole Foods. This is just, well, baked fresh in front of you, hand braided, using incredible versions of wheat, rye, and every other whole grain known to man. One of my favorite rolls to buy is a pretzel braid covered in poppy seeds. I could eat one right now. And again for dinner. And again for breakfast. But breakfast, in hour apartment, is reserved for the German version of raisin bread. Roisinen Brot. It has extra yummy citron pieces in it that wake up your taste buds and it goes great with dark black coffee. It absolutely must be toasted just beyond golden brown to bring out the flavors.

Have I gained some weight you ask? Well, not much, due to the walking everywhere on cobblestones. Thank the good Lord.

Speaking of the good Lord. We have found a beautiful little church located on a lovely park, with the charm and ritual that the Church of England and the Episcopalians use for worship. More importantly, this small church has amazing music. They have a pipe organ and the choir sings beautiful classical Bach numbers– that shouldn’t be possible at this little congregation, but there they were. Our walk there is only 10 minutes, past the duck pond, over the bridge, just absolutely idyllic. Anyway, we found out why the choir is so amazing. It has several members who sing for the Frankfurt opera.

After Sunday service, we walk through the park, see the geese and the lone gosling, on our way to eating outside at a dumpy, but relaxing dining establishment. We’ve had really good food there for the past two weeks and as we pass all of the little gardening plots we see flowers and many other signs of spring. And graffiti.

The graffiti covers everything in Frankfurt. Sheds, buildings, backs of signs, walls, fences. Everything. Is. Covered. In. Graffiti.