Travel: One Suitcase-5 Weeks, pt. 1

White 'IT' Suitcase
This is the suitcase — not too big, but definitely a checked bag.

Goal: 1 suitcase for two cities, 5 weeks

Week 1 Frankfurt, Germany: Build around Brooks, Ltd. LoDo Shirt

This is the second blog planning my packing list for travel to Frankfurt, then on to Johannesburg, South Africa. I am using my inspiration shirt, named after Denver’s Lower Downtown, hence the ‘LoDo’ part of the shirt description. LoDo is where Brooks, Ltd. atelier is located and is also the part of town you see college students, out-of-towners, and business folks mingling together at restaurants and venues.

I might have mentioned that I have “packing anxiety” and that has driven me to plan this trip well in advance. So, I am testing out my one-suitcase bullet wardrobe plan, beginning with five ways to wear the LoDo shirt while working, drinking kaffee, and shopping in Frankfurt, Germany. Oh, and I should tell you, I am going to be eating like a German foodie.

Here’s the bullet list for 5 choices for the first week of five weeks on the road:

  • Lilac cotton zip-front LoDo shirt, that doubles as a lightweight jacket
  • Navy slim-legged pants (J. Crew)
  • Black leggings
  • Jeans
  • Silk floral shell — vintage from the 80s
  • White lightweight cotton turtleneck (think of the movie ‘Something’s Gotta Give’)
  • Black vintage Chanel Logo T-shirt (best all around T-shirt ever)
  • Black ballet neck tea-length dress
  • Black waterproof loafers (Hunter)
  • Black logo tennis shoes (Coach)
  • Silk print scarf
  • Black scarf
  • Rhinestone necklace (J. Crew)

These five choices easily fit into the suitcase with plenty of room for next week’s challenge– 4 weeks in Johannesburg!

LoDoShirt Week 1_04172018

Advertisements

Travel: Trip to Phoenix, AZ

_DSC0065.jpgThe American Southwest is a beautiful place reminiscent of western movies and alien desert landscapes. It is also a backdrop for other photo shoots and international travelers. I am lucky enough to have family in Phoenix, Arizona, so here is the bullet list for a short weekend trip in the “winter”–this trip was to put on Thanksgiving dinner for my dear mama.

Short plane ride from Denver to Phoenix:

  • Nice black leggings
  • Kenzo Paris Sweatshirt
  • Yak yarn sweater
  • Silk Scarf
  • Black and white running shoes

In my favorite carry-on suitcase:

  • Laboratory grade gravy separator
  • Travel sized cleanser, moisturizer
  • Less than 3 oz. CC+ cream with SPF 50
  • Gift with purchase mascara
  • Lipstick, lip gloss, and lip balm (all with SPF)
  • Eyebrow pencil
  • Brush
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 3 pairs of skivvs
  • Knit Pjs
  • Skinny Jeans
  • Cotton dress shirt
  • Apron
  • T-shirt
  • Belt
  • Meds
  • Thanksgiving Recipe Binder
  • Rosemary

Tote

  • Nikon Camera
  • Tripod
  • HD Video Camera (forgot that there was video built-in to Nikon)
  • Wallet
  • e-Reader

So the trip was beautiful and our gift of cooking Thanksgiving for the family was gratefully received. Here are some of our restaurant reviews:

Lindy’s on 4th (whaa, whaa, whaa, whaa)

First of all, I can’t blame Lindy’s for this review. Believe me, there are several things that set us up for a disastrous experience. 1) this is not the burger bar I thought it was, 2) one person in our party, always orders THE WORST ITEM ON THE MENU, from the time he was 16 and in Paris, he couldn’t catch a break–if there is one item on the menu that shouldn’t be there, he will order it, and it will be lackluster at best, hideous at worst, 3) same person was in great pain, 4) other person was feeling ill, like he had the flu. So, sorry Lindy’s, even with the darling waitperson, it just wasn’t good for us. I had the “special” a burger with the philly cheesesteak on top, with horseradish sauce. It was okay, and only okay due to the actual burger patty texture, kind of processed and spongy.

Person ordered the Philly cheesesteak (we are in Arizona at a burger bar for crying out loud) on a cheese roll. Other person split that with him. All I can say was the roll was cold and somewhat stale tasting, the meat somewhat dry. I can only have Philly Cheesesteak from a few places and those place are indeed in Philly! Yes, I am spoiled, and now I miss you Philadelphia!

Bella Luna (Bellisimo!)

This family-owned Italian restaurant charmed our socks off! The elderly man with the distinctly Italian accent made us overlook the location slightly dirty water glasses (who needs to drink tap water anyway?) The pasta we ordered, to a dish, was perfection. We thought that there must be someone making the pasta from scratch back in the kitchen. The sauces were authentic and were perfection. I have never had a better plate of butternut squash ravioli, and the person who always orders poorly? He ordered the alfredo, and we all agreed that it was superb! In fact, I want to eat some of that Pasta Alfredo everyday for the rest of my life!

Joe’s Farm Grill (I’m Proud to be an American!)

I had only been to Joe’s Farm Grill for dinner, and due to horrible traffic, we weren’t able to make it for dinner after our long drive down to San Xavier and back. So, we went for breakfast. It was the kind of breakfast that makes you feel proud to be an American. Proud to be a farmer, or descended from farmers, and reminds you of goodness in the world.

I had the waffles and ribs, which were fall off the bone perfection, even though this was the morning after Thanksgiving, and one person had the sausage and egg tacos, breaking his record of ordering poorly, (you can’t count Bella Luna, since I don’t believe that they have one bad item on the menu), and the other person decided on a waffle with a fresh strawberry shake. Heaven!!!

Oh, and for a some quirky fun, trust me on this, use the restroom. Just saying.

This was the perfect send off before we went to Sky Harbor airport to return to Denver via Los Angeles.

_DSC0047.jpg

These photos were taken just south of Tuscon, AZ at the Mission at San Xavier.

 

Leaving Crazytown

It makes me happy to see a resident of Crazytown taking the actions necessary to move out. After all, moving requires preparation and work. No one wakes up one morning and says, I’m moving today, and successfully changes from point A to point Z. I love this resident and have been coaching him to move out for years. At first, he just didn’t believe he was living in Crazytown. Crazytown was hip, it was where all of his friends lived. The nightlife was exciting and unpredictable.

He went through a phase in which he couldn’t make Crazytown work for him — so he wanted funding. Just help with a computer. Help with a couple of bucks for food. Help for heating. He needed socks. That went on for a few years, punctuated by bouts of shouting, crying, outrage, anxiety–the whole emotional rollercoaster at the carnival.

Next, he drowned his sorrows. He self-medicated. He destroyed relationships without acknowledging his rage. He blacked out. Often. One year, the day before Thanksgiving, he called me. Someone had broken into his apartment and left the deadbolt (which had been pried off completely) in the middle of the living room floor. In the living room had been two laptops — his and his girlfriends. His laptop had been stolen — his whole means of making money as a DJ. His girlfriend’s laptop hadn’t been touched. Apparently, the thief had entered his room, and stole a pair of his very expensive hipster jeans — waist size 28. He was so drunk, he didn’t hear someone steal his pants! The worst part, in those pants was his Louis Vuitton belt, still threaded through the belt loops.

Out of curiosity, how many thieves can actually wear a size 28 skinny jean? I mean really? I’ve seen meth addicts who couldn’t fit into those jeans — they were like leggings!

Anyway, this seemed to be the Crazytown cycle. Get to “rock bottom” and quit drinking/drugging. Go to church one week in a row. Feel better for two weeks. Repeat.

Girlfriends lasted about 2 years and then moved on.

And then the big 30 began to loom on the horizon. After 9 years, he was still cycling, still living behind the 8 ball — worse than paycheck to paycheck. Less than zero, less than zero, when it came to his budget. Light began to dawn, and the false shine of Crazytown looked cheap, like the fake gold that peels off of a plastic dish. The disguises were frayed, filthy, and cracked. He quit drinking. For weeks, over two months. He was clear headed and began making good choices.

He is packing his bags. He is serious this time. He is moving. He is not perfect, there has been a short lapse and a quick revisit to his own self-tortured agony. But with that, a renewal of commitment, and a fresh perspective of why.

Why do we do what we do?

St. Valentine’s Day: Anticipation

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!

 

 

Flugente [Duck] Preparation Results

20160920_180917
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!

 

Example of Online Bullying?

capture_fb1_mkcapture_fb_mk2

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.

1Q 2016 Now that I’ve Survived the Move

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.