I am loving life.

Much of that comes from the following:

  1. Working on my knowledge pool
  2. Being open to new people, places, and things
  3. Working on my spiritual self
  4. Being open to change and forgiveness
  5. Working on my health and appearance
  6. Avoiding obsessions and silliness
  7. Working on improving my emotional landscape
  8. Being open to letting go of anxiety, fear, anger, rage
  9. Working on being wise
  10. Being open to reality even when unfair, improbable,
  11. Accepting truth, being courageous, living with normal failings and failures

You might think that my good fortune (which doesn’t have anything to do with a fortune), was merely luck. But I think that the foundation, the groundwork, that is built day-by-day, creates the ability to effectively open up to good choices, to be able to say ‘no’ to bad choices, and then to walk through the door of opportunity. And yes, that includes choosing my husband, who has been the most important part of getting to live in Germany for the past two years.

But all of that isn’t enough. Having a solid relationship with God, with his son, Jesus Christ, is the most important aspect of this foundation. With everything else, and without a solid place internally, spiritually, the emptiness will not and cannot be filled. Contentment and happiness, can’t truly bloom.

Like Covey said, big rocks first.

“On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.” William Batchelder Bradbury (1816-1868)

hermes-scarf-valentine-2017-2I find myself in Paris this St. Valentine’s Day. As if I were some amazing writer, world traveler, or jet-set member. All of which, I am not. And yet, here I am, living a romance novel character’s dream…let’s be honest, my dream!

My husband and I have been here to Paris twice before, we’ve walked past that amazing fixture of luxury restaurants, Maxim’s, and I have always put it out of my mind that I would ever have a meal there. After all, royalty has dined there. But everything has become more accessible now, here in our time, in the new century. Even Maxim’s.

My husband made reservations for us this evening at 8:00 p.m. I am going a little crazy with excitement. I will wear a black, elegant, almost tuxedo-like suit, with a satin blouse, and as my key accessory, I will wear my Hermes scarf.

Hah! I shouldn’t even own an Hermes scarf! Again, another gift from my loving husband who goes out of his way to make me feel like we are part of the elite class. And truly, I am wealthy. I am married to a man who is truly my partner. We share love and adventure daily. He knows me, he gets me, and he makes me laugh. I am rich!

 

 

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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.

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You know how you crack yourself up from time to time with a totally inappropriate thought? Well, today’s that day for me. Totally inappropriate and being a Christian woman, I will never say this directly to someone, and I mean anyone. But since I have been working on writing comedy for some time now, I thought I would share today’s inappropriate toast, as it would look like in a meme.

Compliments of Yours Truly, I crack myself up, etc. copyright 2016

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Is this an example of bullying?

Let’s use this to open a dialogue about online communication. I’m not worried about hurting this man’s reputation, since he has long been employed at the same small business, perhaps it is his own business, and he only has 8 connections on LinkedIn. So this is a great opportunity to discuss choices. My first point: I feel bad for my friend, Meegan Kiefel, who opened up this topic of conversation, only to have such an off-topic and mean-spirited comment to surface from one of her followers. Meegan is a wonderful person, kind, warm-hearted, and open. She would never encourage this type of comment, in fact none of my beautiful friends would support this. It is not his post or conversation to barge in on. Not his business. Yes, it’s publicly online, but that doesn’t nullify good manners, nor common sense.

Second Point: This dialogue should go deeper. It doesn’t matter to me what was posted by a stranger, but if I were less mature, younger, without exposure to the harshness of others, this could have silenced me, or worse, hurt my self-confidence. In fact, I considered completely ignoring this silly comment. However, I realize in our current culture, I cannot walk away. It would be missing the opportunity given to me to share some important topics of consideration. Such as the following questions: What are we accepting in our society, in our communication, in our media as acceptable communication? Are we afraid of reading/hearing different perspectives and points-of-view? Can we be more invitational? Can we ask more questions and listen to more answers? I say “no” to our media’s presentation of mockery, insinuation, deliberate misguided interpretation, insults, and pointless coverage. We can empower each other to rise above the lowest common denominator.

Point Three: There are many good reasons to practice courtesy, case in point, your own personal branding. What does this comment say about this person? How many potential customers and employers will see this comment? What we say is a reflection of our character. Let us be more than mockers, belittlers, bullies, and haters. Choose to uplift, encourage, and inform. Don’t be silenced, but rather sound the call for kindness. After all, we can reflect the light within, even on Facebook.

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.