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Posts tagged ‘food’

A Party Atmosphere

Have you guessed that I love to celebrate pretty much anything? I do. Life is supposed to be a celebration, especially in the worst of times. I know way too many people that say they don’t want to celebrate their birthdays because they are getting old and it’s silly. Birthday celebrations are for kids. Well, I was never really a kid, so I’m making up for lost time. I’ve posted many of my birthday celebrations since not having a birthday isn’t on my “to do” list right now.

Celebrating by stuffing the face with lunch

I have this tendency to go around and ask people I see and talk to regularly about when they have a birthday. I write it down. I collect them. Here at my independent living complex, birthdays are no longer a given and many people here have no family available. To many, that day is just another day. Not if I can help it. Many people here stay to themselves and have no desire to interact but there are a few that are just too nice to ignore. Everett is now 87 and is a happy person who enjoys cheerful company. So, I mentioned to the kitchen how much he loved the chocolate cake they had baked for the director’s birthday and asked if they would make it for his.

Everett and his cake

Then I mentioned to several of the ladies around who he converses with regularly (when he’s not watching NASCAR) if they would like to help him celebrate on his special day. I was the last one to get to the dining room when the kitchen said they had no candles. I didn’t either but I had something that might do, though it was a bit irreverent. I brought down the candles and we had a sort of birthday ­­party. Everette had a good laugh at the candles trying not to offend anyone’s sensibilities. I’m going down the list and trying to find out who is next and what can we do for them to make the day special.

Looks like a party to me.

Birthdays aren’t the only thing that makes a party. Our stitching group, Knit Wits, collects a dollar each week from those that show up. I haven’t been here very long but there was a good amount in the bucket so we decided that we had ­­more than enough for several pizzas. We had enough to go have a real lunch.

Thoughtful bunch with food.

Unfortunately, one or two of our members have a hard time getting out and about so I suggested ordering lunch in from a guaranteed good restaurant. I would order early in the morning from the list we made and my sweet son would pick it up and deliver it halfway through our group time. Of course, he was happy to do that. I took an order for him and his wife too. That would be my personal treat for their kindness.

The oldest will soon be 94. That will be a celebration.

The group plus a daughter that delivers mom.

We are a very noisy group and had an extra good time that day. Our delivery man was smothered in gratitude by all of us hungry women then went to have his lunch at home.  There is still enough cash for a pizza lunch later.

Do you celebrate anything or do you shy away?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself


The Total Opposite

The Universe is all about contrast and so it is in our world. After Stuttgart, we were certainly looking for some contrast. My daughter had an agenda as we approached Mannheim. First thing on her list was a laundromat. That was her GPS coordinates rather than the hotel. A couple of times around the block and we found it and then parking. We left the car loaded with luggage and found the typical laundromat. After a few moments there, many others had the same idea.

My daughter is still laughing that a older German man was having to explain to a 20 something young German woman how to work the machines. My daughter figured it out without speaking or reading the language. Some wore masks, many didn’t. We did. No one wants to be sick in a foreign country.

The contrast started at the laundry and continued to the hotel. It was a new high-rise at the end of the old city buildings. Our reception was a great deal warmer. Once we were settled and laundry sorted to suitcases, we made our way back to the reception desk and ask about finding dinner. We were kindly directed toward the street with many shops and told the metro line was just out front that would take us anywhere.

Our hotel

First, we walked and found some take out sandwiches and called it a night. The next morning, we were directed to the breakfast room where, as before in other places, masks were required while in the food area but once seated away from it, we could eat in comfort and safety. The food was abundant, offering even dessert with breakfast. I NEVER turn down dessert. I even took a roll and sandwich meat and cheese back to our room for lunch. I eat small amounts at a time so this wasn’t an extravagant amount of food.

Breakfast, lunch and dessert all in one

After our scrumptious breakfast, we were asking directions to a grocery and explained to the reception clerk that we had been denied entry to anywhere except grocery stores in Stuttgart over the QR code. She shook her head and asked to see our vaccination documents again explaining that she didn’t understand why we had been denied and said she thought it could be remedied. Quickly making a phone call and then directing us to an Apotheke (Pharmacy).

This one was in the Cologne shopping center. If we had only known.

We walked down the wrong street but found an Apotheke explaining to the pharmacist what we were after. She looked at our vaccine records and went into her office. Then she asked a few more questions and back into her office. I was getting concerned but finally after 10 minutes she came out with two sheets of paper with the QR code printed on them. One for each of us. It coincided with our vaccine code number and said that should take care of us. Oddly, we never needed it in Mannheim. Everyone was helpful and kind not to mention accepting.

We wandered the streets taking in the sights and used the metro rail to our hearts content having the best time in spite a bit of drizzle on and off. This city gets five stars for hospitality. The clerk even gave me two batteries for my oximeter when it ran down so we didn’t need to walk to the grocery store again.

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It makes me wonder how we treat foreigners to our country who don’t speak the language. Would we go to those lengths to make their visit to our country a pleasure or wish they would just be gone?


“Everything I was I carry with me, everything I will be lies waiting on the road ahead.” ~ Ma Jian, Red Dust: A Path Through China

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself








Real Old-World Charm

Aschaffenburg had us hoping for more real German delight. Right away I knew where we needed to go. My daughter found us a hotel right at the entrance to the fairy tale world of Rothenburg. It’s on the Romantic Highway. My sister and I visited here as well in 2006 during summer; falling in love with the town.  My daughter and I were able to park the rental car in a free lot and it never moved again till we left.

Entrance to the walled city

We were told after showing our vaccination documents and passports that we were getting an upgrade room. I wasn’t sure what that meant but our room was quite spacious and very old world looking. We had everything we needed there.

Breakfast was included and we were seated a safe distance apart from other diners. Disposable gloves were offered free to keep all utensils germ free and as long as you were near the food, masks remained on. Once you retrieved your food and sat to eat, masks could come off. Again, the hotel population was sparse. Was it covid or winter?

Lots of glitz in old hotel. No one else in there

Masks and gloves required.

After breakfast we walked into the old section of Rothenburg where the tourists are drawn in to shop. We did our fair share and of course had to check out all the bakeries along the streets. There were gift shops and luggage shops. My daughter bought another small suitcase to check since she had done a fair bit of shopping already in Köln so the suitcase was going to be necessary. Hard sided and bright so it would be easy to find in the crowd.

Stickers added in case we couldn’t see it.

There was a mini-Christmas market but all the shops welcomed you in, only if you had vaccination certificates. We found delicious pastries and then we located the Christmas shop.

We saved that for the next day as we knew the restaurant would stop serving at 2 pm and we would want linner. (That’s a late lunch, early dinner). The restaurant owned by the hotel was as old world as the town. The food there was indescribably delicious. I moaned as I failed to finish my first meal. Portions were substantial and perfectly cooked. The beer was perfect of course. The second day the  meal was equally as scrumptious and I refused to leave even a bite of it. We waddle out with grins that expressed extreme satisfaction in any language. Fortunately, language was no barrier here either.

Our hotel itself had such modern upgrades as motion sensor lighting everywhere and the room key tucked in its inside slot allowed the room lights to go on until we turned them off. On leaving the room and taking the ‘plastic card key’ all lights in the room turned off. Since we planned several days visit, we ask that our room not be serviced until we left, saving water and wear. We spent only three days and wished we had stayed longer. If I only had one place to visit in Germany, it would be here.

Put in your key card for lights. Take card, lights out

We were directed to a good-sized grocery store in walking distance for a few things like mineral water and found a very handy gas station for later. Then we walked the whole walled city and shopped at the Kathy Wolfart Christmas store. This was an expensive trip. My daughter had gifts shipped from there.

I wanted this guy to come home with me.

I don’t think this car ever moved.

The contrast in old and new was very apparent in this little town. I struggle with seeing the old disappear and the new swallow it all up. We need the modern but also the reminders of what was and the beauty of the old architecture. More on that later, I think.

How do you feel about the destruction of the old to be replaced by the new?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself


Synchronicity at Work

We went from Cologne to the city of Aschaffenburg. Not on most travelers must see list but it seemed right to go back after 15 years and see what had changed.

This hasn’t changed.

The first night we found a place to eat our first authentic German meal that was proceeded by a loud musical and peaceful protest against vaccines around the long city block. It made me nervous but it was orderly with no disruption except to traffic which the police managed.

My sister and I visited here in 2006. This is the city most of the stories about Suzy Q took place. We spent three years here when we were children. I took a picture of the street sign in 2006 just in case I wanted to find it again. This is the city where at the age of seven, I remembered where I came from, fully stepping into my body and became awake. You don’t forget those kinds of moments.

We booked a hotel in Aschaffenburg that was inexpensive with free wifi and breakfast included. The Olive Inn was a big green building. Easy to spot from a long distance and GPS took us straight there. We found a free parking spot on the side of the building which was a bonus. My daughter walked up to the office/reception area and it was locked up tight; on a Saturday at 1:00 p.m. My daughter called. She was told since there were only three other guests, they were told to close the reception office and stay home. That meant no breakfast as well. The key to our room was under the mat and she gave us the room number.

Not quite olive but you couldn’t miss it.

To be honest, the room was stark with nothing that encouraged an extended stay. No mini fridge or microwave. No way to make coffee or tea. The best part of the room was the marshmallow mattresses. Best night’s sleep we’d had so far.

On Sunday’s almost everything is closed, but we headed out anyway to find sustenance again and to see if we could find the street I lived on from one photographed street sign.

The guiding sign photographed in 2006

We programmed it into GPS and as we pushed start navigation, the direction signal didn’t move. We drove down the street and it directed us back up. The street we were looking for was exactly one block up from that awful motel. One block on the other side of the street!!! Ironic? Synchronistic? Fate?

We parked the car and walked the entire block. It was barely recognizable but when I found the little church, there was no mistaking it was the same block with a very different look. The school looked quite different and the apartments we lived in had been bulldozed.

I had thought 15 years ago that it was sad those huge buildings had remained empty after the US Army moved out of there. I guess they have decided to start over from scratch. It was a little heartbreaking but that is life. Everything must change.

The apartments had all been bulldozed.

My daughter saw what was left of my one-time home. Mission accomplished. Time for the new. That included a different town and hotel. We cancelled the rest of our stay. The rental car needed an oil change so we took it back to Frankfurt. They gave us another one for the rest of our trip.  We did miss those soft mattresses.

Marshmallow mattresses

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” ~ Terry Pratchett,  A Hat Full of Sky

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Phil’s Christmas

I mentioned before that we had hoped over the last year or two that this would be a more international trip than it has been. While watching all the episodes of “I’ll have what Phil’s having” and “Somebody feed Phil” on Netflix we got caught up in Phil Rosenthal’s childlike wonder at every city and country he visited and the food he tasted. It was our happy place during the Pandemic. A hopefulness that enveloped us when the days seemed too grim to bear. Phil made us laugh and feel his joy.

A Phil mug for each of us.

It was not to be. Everywhere we wanted to go got tighter and tighter restrictions and we understood. So, we confined out trip to just memory lane with a little added bonus here and there.

My daughter-in-law was caught up in our wonder herself. She decided that a joint Christmas gift for my daughter and I would represent the idea of global travel. She did extensive research and pulled together foods from everywhere possible and labeled their origin, wrapped them beautifully and placed them in two baskets for my daughter and I. My son supplied encouragement.

Each package labeled where the food originated

I wanted to share just a bit of our fun at opening each and every one of these dozens of packages before we left on our trip. We all sampled a few and the rest are awaiting our return. I’m not expecting to do more traveling but never say never. I’m wishing you an adventurous heart to your Christmas and sending lots of love and hugs to each and everyone that has sent en-courage-ment as we trek through the country of my birth. We are celebrating a quiet thoughtful Christmas and New Year as we delve into the unknown future that awaits.

There is so much here

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to each of you and thank you from the bottom of my heart for going on this journey with us.

My daughter’s water color for her brother.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself.

A Different Thanksgiving

This is the first Thanksgiving I have spent at the home of my son and his wife in way too many years. We will also be celebrating his birthday while we are here on the mountain in Arizona. He’s still busy working though; even after knee replacement surgery. Obviously, it went very well.

It took a while to get here. First a day’s drive to Redding, CA. Hot, dry and windy we headed out the next morning for the San Fransisco Bay area to visit for a few hours with fellow blogger, Alys and family. We had a lovely dinner together with a lot of chatting. I was privileged to view her garden up close. I could be jealous but I am always grateful for all I learn from her. Getting there was no party though. It’s California traffic after all.

The next night was Bakersfield, CA. There was so much dust and pollutants in the air the it was in the unhealthful range. I did have the best Cobb salad I’ve ever had anywhere. Then a night in Flagstaff to get acclimated slowly to the altitude. Even with oxygen, it left me huffing and puffing as I still am where my son lives. Thanksgiving dinner will be another 1000 ft higher. I won’t need wine.

Right now, I’m very grateful we made it here for a unique celebration of gratitude with family and their friends. Only eight of us but lots of food and I hope friendly conversation. I’m making Watergate for a side dish/dessert. My son’s favorite German dinner is the order of the day for his birthday. I’ll be the chef of the day for that meal.

The day I found out escrow had closed and I had to go sign papers on my house, I was having a lovely soup and salad with my quilting friend, Patti. Her son lives close by with his partner in life. They were away so Patti had to check the mail and house while we were out. She had to show me how her son’s partner had already set the entire dining room for their version of Thanksgiving. She apparently has a flair for making things very festive as their dinner will be including several friends without family. I was in love with it so I took copious photos.

How will you do your Thanksgiving?

I wish you all things good and much for which to be grateful.

From my grateful heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

National Pretzel Day

It was on my phone calendar this month. How did I not know this before? I think they have it wrong though. Every day should be pretzel day on my calendar. At least every day that I can get to a good one. After all, not all pretzels are created equal.

I like mine soft and the dough a little sweet, of course. With my pretzel, I like soft melted cheese and a small cold imported beer. A good Hefeweizen is my favorite. Both are a rare treat anymore but last Saturday we made a quick stop at Edelweiss, our favorite German Deli in Portland Oregon for a fresh out of the oven Pretzel. They have the best anywhere. Soft, fat and sweet, kind of like me.

I’m half German so I grew up with this fare and its memories warm my heart. Everything in the German Deli triggers some of my better memories. I’m pretty certain I experience the world through my taste buds. My daughter and I watched every episode of “Somebody Feed Phil” on Netflix twice and have decided that we want to travel to as many places as possible and experience the food. I’m more interested in the bakeries of the world and tasting as many pretzels as I can find. Open those borders everyone. My taste buds are tingling.

One of the best I’ve eaten.

Wikipedia says the origin of the pretzel is ambiguous and many countries take credit. I don’t really care about that. Just pass me another pretzel and the day will be perfect.

So how do you experience the world? Are pretzels your thing?

Happy Pretzel Day.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself.


Have you noticed that the months of November and December go faster than any month of the year? It’s like these two months are on speed and I’m on molasses. The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas always finds me totally unprepared and way behind schedule.

Set myself up an assembly line in the den so I can watch Christmas movies while I work.

We know it’s coming with 12 months notice. It comes the same time every year and each year I’m behind in my list of things to get done. I’ve even shortened the list to a minute fraction of what it once was.

Someone apparently likes pink. Not my favorite..

Sleep doesn’t come easily when your mind is letting you know all night what’s left to be done before mailing is no longer possible. Since I make most my gifts from what I have available, my creativity has to work overtime as well.


Many days are taken up with fun things. Last weekend I went to the Hazelnut Festival in Mt. Angel, Oregon with my blogging friend Crystal, at Conscious Engagement.  There are better photos on her blog. She did the driving, I bought lunch. Santa was on the porch calling us to dine.

Having a chat with Santa

It’s less than an hour away from my house and two from Crystal’s. It turned into a beautiful day but quite chilly. They were wise enough to hold it in a large hall out of the elements. I bought a lovely hazelnut cake made by the Benedictine Sisters to share over the holidays. There was Chocolate hazelnut handmade pasta to make as a dessert. I can’t wait to try it. Hazelnut butter and so many things made with them I had a hard time leaving it all behind.

I’m dancing to the music

Next week will be full as well. Sewing group will have their all day (5 hrs) gathering to share our finished projects and our gifts for each other. Mine are ready for the bows.

Each one is a little different. For quilting friends.

Even the Pulmonary Fibrosis support group my sister, daughter and I attend will have their monthly gathering at a restaurant downtown. Thank goodness my daughter is a wonderful chauffeur. The drinks (if we imbibe) will be on us but the nibbles are gifted by the foundation. The chauffeur never imbibes and drives. I taught her well.

My first visit with Santa in over 30 years.

This holiday is once again going to be quite different from others. I’ve been gifting from my collections and making lots of bowl cozies for family members to give as their gifts to friends. Since they already have theirs, the making of these others will be my gift to them. I’m slower these days but finding a rhythm.

6 cozies made for my sister so far. She gives them as gifts

Today will be baking day. A favorite for both my daughter and me. We usually spend Saturday’s together and baking in my better-appointed kitchen than she has is fun and tasty. I can only say, I wish you were here. Now it’s time to start our breakfast.

Beginning of baking

How are you doing with timing?


From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

What’s New?

I’m trying to figure out this New Year thing. Saturday turns into Sunday and everything is supposed to be different? My house looks like the same mess it was in yesterday. In other words, same stuff (putting it nicely), different day. My mind is as chaotic as my home is right now so forgive the fragmented writing, please.

packing boxes mixed in with Christmas decor.

packing boxes mixed in with Christmas decor.

I was awakened at midnight by the fireworks that sounded like gunshots going off in my neighborhood and it took a while to go back to sleep. I’m a very early riser. Why do we humans like to celebrate things? Maybe  to keep life from being mundane. Animals don’t do celebrations. Every day is good to them. I know there is a lesson in there.

I got time for Christmas. Something I really need.

I got time for Christmas. Something I really need.

Christmas is over. I love/hate Christmas, though this year was unlike any of them. I had a lot to do this year that just didn’t get done. I spent most of my time working on a quilt for my son. He is moving all his stuff to snow country. After expressing a fondness for a soft plain quilt he saw in a craft show, I made it my mission to get one made before Christmas so he would have it with him. I had no idea what I was doing and no pattern or measurements. He wanted “soft” so that’s what I made. Flannel on one side, Minky® on the other. Other than an embroidered fleece blanket for my niece to take to college next fall, the quilt is the only thing I finished this year.

Quilt for Tech Support.

Quilt for Tech Support.

Isabel Rose is her name.

Isabel Rose is her name.

When the truck pulls out with everything from his room and the storage unit, I will start my new year. Sorting and selling. We have already sold many things through a neighborhood website that just popped up. Yay!!! I still have a village to sell and all its inhabitants. There is nowhere to store them year to year anymore and nowhere to display them. Anyone need a collection of dust catchers?

Alpine Bakery

Alpine Bakery

New for me this year will be just one thing. Find ways to move more. Just my body, not my house.  None of what I do involves a lot of movement. I’m also planning to try new things this year. Maybe connecting with more blogs that ask us to write something specific, and possibly take some classes to meet new people. I tend to be a hermit. One of those extroverted introverts. People scare the dickens out of me but we need each other.

People sharing ideas and good fun

People sharing ideas and good fun

Also new this year, we’ve had an unusual amount of snow already and extra cold temps. Looks like more is on the way. I won’t mind once the kid has his rental truck safely where it’s going. I don’t wish driving in this crazy weather on anyone.

Handmade by a quilting friend, this snow-mama came home with me.

Handmade by a quilting friend, this snow-mama came home with me.

It already feels like a very different year. In my bones different. Let’s hope it brings more good than not. So are you really expecting anything NEW about this New Year?


From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself






A Beach Weekend

I complained previously, gently of course, about not having any vacation. Big problem for a woman with no job and every day is Saturday. With the busy summer, I was looking for a small change in scenery.  I finally got it.

Mid September, my daughter took an extra couple of days off work to take her car in for some extensive repairs in my little town and to take us both to the beach using my boat car.

Cannon Beach was our first stop. It rained the entire way there and most of the day. Very uptown shops for the most part and we sampled flavored vinegars and oils. Lunch was nothing worth repeating, ever. Our highlight there was the wonderful little quilt shop with the nicest ladies. My non-quilting daughter enjoyed it too. I didn’t buy much, really! Of course we found some fuzzy friends waiting out the rain.

Wet all the way and most of the day.

Wet all the way and most of the day.

She was wet and tired of the rain too.

She was wet and tired of the rain too.

Little sister was hoping for a warm spot in the book store

Little sister was hoping for a warm spot in the book store

We booked an inexpensive room with 2 beds and a kitchenette. There was no such thing in Cannon Beach so we spent our 2 nights in neighboring Seaside Beach. They are like night and day. Our motel was not fancy but fortunately, had a separate alcove for the second bed with a door. Daughter could sleep late and I could be up early having my coffee in bed reading. Perfect.

We were on the bottom floor, 4 windows in. Great access

We were on the bottom floor, 4 windows in. Great access

The Ebb Tide was the least expensive place I could find with a vacancy so my expectations were low. I was pleasantly surprised. Everything was clean and fresh. And as a warning, when the hotel says “climate controlled” they mean that in the most literal of terms. The fireplace didn’t work but we didn’t need it. I figured out how to crack the window for air during the night. They provided a fan. How much time do you spend in a room?

Seaside was a whole different feel. Because it’s more affordable, more families and young people are there crawling all the souvenir shops. We did talk to some nice shop owners. One recommendation for dinner was as disappointing as the meal in Cannon Beach. Another shop owner who was passing out free chocolate like I had room for it recommended a place for lunch or dinner the next day in a small town called Gearhart, 6 miles up the road. She said not to blink or we would miss the town.

We set the GPS and found the sweetest place and the best food. Fortunately it was Sunday and by the time we got there, the bakery portion was closing. Whew! Service at the restaurant part was excellent and the food tasty. My kind of town.

Gearhart's Pacific Bakery/Cafe

Gearhart’s Pacific Bakery/Cafe

Poppies at the Paradise Cafe

Poppies at the Paradise Cafe

The next morning we checked out and made our way to Astoria which was not more than 30 minutes away. It was also on the way home.

We passed a chain restaurant that we had eaten breakfast in once and were not that fond of,  in favor of a hole in the wall place called Stephanie’s Cabin. It looked like a tavern but the car was going that way and I was the passenger. Oh, my goodness, what a surprise! They spent nothing on ambiance and everything on the cook. It was perfect, priced right and I let them know.  Then we finally found the quilt store in a hard to get to spot. Small, but nice people and I found gifts for my quilting friends.

Did I mention anywhere actually sitting on the beach and stuffing my toes in the sand? We took our books and just soaked it up. Seaside had the best beach access.  Sand feels so good between the toes. One of life’s greatest pleasures.

Sandy feet on the towel.

Sandy feet on the towel.

Diversity in beach housing

Diversity in beach housing

There was a little meditation time, a few photos and time to talk about things like how we want to reshape our lives. Nothing major. Isn’t that what you do on a weekend at the beach? Where do you go for a quick change of scenery?



From my heart to your,

Marlene Herself