Monday, December 31, 2012

Lists

My hub makes lists. I do not.

But I think I will change that in 2013, since I tend to forget to buy important foods when we grocery shop. And I do not remember meeting or appointment dates like I used to do.

The main list I plan to make is "The Things I Never Ever Plan to Do Again in This Life."

Number 1 will be to never scrub any floors with a bathroom grout brush. Don't get me wrong, our brick foyer and kitchen floors look (and smell) terrific. But that was a LAST! Never, and I mean NEVER ever again will I scrub a floor with a hand brush while scooting around on a plastic step stool. I could have used my rolling garden stool, but it was dirty and too rolling.

So that is the first item on my new list. Think I will post it on my freezer door. Isn't that what people do with lists?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

No Deal Cleaning Brick Floors with a Toothbrush

Been there, done that!

For ages I have been looking at little doggie dribbles on our hardwood and brick floors. I have vacuumed, wet mopped, dry mopped, broomed, and mop mopped. Nothing seemed to work. Yesterday I wet wax mopped with a brush and brick and tile cleaner a section of the brick hallway to see if that worked.

No deal!

Then I Bruce spray cleaned the hardwood floor in the living room, but I still saw spots.

No deal!

This morning I used my fingernail to scratch away the dry spots on the hardwood floor. Actually there were not so many, since Bruce spray dissolved a few. And Flip does not spend much time running around in the living room anyway.

Then I tried the fingernail trick on the brick. Really did! Before I ruined my nail, I realized this did not work.

No deal!

Then I read that cold water would remove protein spots, so I tried a piece of ice. That somewhat worked, but that was idiotic (and cold).

No deal!

After that, I read that vinegar cleaned everything. So I tried it straight with an old toothbrush. It worked. Deal, deal, deal! But I don't want our house to smell like a pickle jar!

So no deal!

Next I used the toothbrush with leftover (cold) brick and tile cleaner from yesterday. Finally, I was seeing some results.

But still No Deal!

I am not stupid enough to clean all of our brick floors with a TOOTHBRUSH! So I grabbed our bathroom grout brush and attacked the spots. Hours later (and a stiff pulse later), most of the dreaded puppy spots are gone.

Now to attack the brick floor in the kitchen tomorrow.

And the clean smell is a good Deal.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Our Pond is Full (Again)

My readers are probably as sick of hearing about our pond as I am about reporting on it.

But as of today December 28, 2012, our newly renovated pond is FULL. Actually, it is overfull.

So you know where this is going---the overflow water is flowing out of our new drainpipe, across the "super highway" or "landing strip" or "secondary pond," through our old drainpipe, and out UNDER the riprap on the paparazzi's land.

Just where it would have ended up if nothing had ever been done to our levee or pond!!!

What idiots!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Spare the Rod or Weapon and Spoil the Child?

Do not spank the child!

I remember my first year of teaching in 1970 as the first and last year that as a teacher I had permission to strike a student. On entering the classroom for the first time, I was given a wooden paddle with a few holes bored into it. I must say that the only time that I remember using it was the day I broke the little 7th grade scoundrel's watch, as he used his arm to protect his rear from the blow of my paddle.

Another time that year, I watched a female physical ed teacher lean into my 1960's style classroom window and paddle a tiny boy she had seen misbehaving in MY classroom! No "excuse me" or "can we talk about this." She just flapped open the ground floor classroom window, stuck her HUGE body into the window, called the boy's name, and started beating him with the paddle. Then she walked away without saying a word.

The next year I was transferred to another school. That was 1971. No paddles or such were allowed in the classroom. I am not too sure what went on in the administrative office, but "no paddling" for teachers. Boy, was I glad.

Now I read that some people want to "arm" teachers and school administrators. WHAT???

Sorry, teachers and administrators. I have seen what you can do to your students with a paddle.

You do not need any kind of weapon!

Leave our children alone!

Agaves in the Wild

In order to have a little peace, I just sent Flip to his bed. I swear he gave me the same snort sound that my own child (and a couple of thousand others at school) did when he did not want to do what I requested.

And now he has just trip trapped back with a toy rabbit in hopes that I changed my mind.

No way we are going to play "drop it" or "find it" now.

Flip and I went on our morning walk today in thick frost, thus below freezing temps.

He is on the leash today, since we have had it with the wood ticks. Nothing seems to work when he goes out into the deep woods for hours at a time. Those tiny critters have a feast, and Flip looks pretty pitiful after we pull off the ticks (and a pinchful of hair=lots of tiny bald spots). So it is off to the Vet today to see if we can buy a new tick collar, that really works.

The most interesting things I saw today during our cold, refreshing walk were the baby agave plants growing in the compost heap on the fence line. Earlier this year I pulled up baby agave plants instead of cutting them down. I saved them for a week or so, thinking I would transplant them somewhere. Well, I threw them away on the grass and weed heap across the driveway, and now they are thriving.

Think I will leave them there and just see what they do. Won't our big city neighbor be surprised at his agave garden?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Greetings from the Neighborhood

On my early morning walk with Flip this morning in the Neighborhood it was like being in a huge jungle. Instead of monkeys jumping from tree to tree, there were gray squirrels.

Flip knows that he does not have a chance, either with their height in the trees or with my leash, but he can dream. At our house he has caught a few, but he won't be munching on fresh squirrel meat with me.

The Neighborhood was peaceful and quiet at 7:30 am on this Christmas Eve. No school and lots of neighbors already on their holidays. No barking dogs as we walked down the street and around by the community swimming pool. Just a little fog and a lady and her dog.

Me and Flip.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What Americans Know (or should know) About The Netherlands

Just take a look at this video I found in the in the Dutch newspaper .

http://www.telegraaf.nl/video/video_opmerkelijk/21178159/__Amerikanen_over_Nederland__.html

OR

http://www.telegraaf.nl/video/video_opmerkelijk/article21178159.ece

Friday, December 21, 2012

Chocolate Fillers Recipe

I have too many cans of sweetened condensed milk in the pantry. Some are slipping by the Sell By date, so it is time to use 'em or throw 'em out. As I hate to waste food items, I have learned to be creative lately. Yesterday I opened another "overaged" can of sweetened milk and discovered a lovely golden colored cream. Tasted delicious, but I thought I had better be safe and cook it in some dessert. So I grabbed the nearest chocolate chip package, and this yummy recipe was on the bag.

Chocolate Fillers  (Log House Foods)

3/4 cup Butter or Margarine, softened
1 cup Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 cup Quick Cooking Oats
1 can (14 ounces) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup Log House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter with brown sugar and salt. Blend in flour and oats until particles are fine. Press about 2/3 of mixture into bottom of greased 13 x 9 inch pan. Heat condensed milk in saucepan. Stir in chips. Spread over mixture in pan. Sprinkle with remaining crumbs; press down lightly. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until light golden brown. Makes one 13 x 9 inch pan.

(A couple of changes I made: I melted the unsalted butter in the microwave. I mixed the butter and brown sugar and salt with a fork. No mixer used! I added the flour and regular oats (I like to see what I am eating!) and continued with the fork. When I got to the heating of  the sweetened condensed  milk, I put it in a plastic bowl and popped it into the microwave for 30 seconds. Then I added the chocolate chips and zapped that combo another 30 seconds. With a good stir, that layer was ready. My crumbs for the top were more like globs, but they still baked up fine. Yummy, yummy.)



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Demise of the Christmas Card

Yesterday we received our first Christmas card for this season. It is a beautiful photo of my niece's two lovely daughters with a message of Love for this holiday time. Thank you, C., for remembering us and keeping up the card tradition.

Every year I keep wondering how many fewer cards we will receive this year. And I will not be surprised if C's is the one and only. Not complaining, just saying.

Back in early November I found two boxes of Christmas cards in a kitchen cabinet at the family apartment in The Netherlands. I put them out on the coffee table as a reminder that this year I had plenty of time to "write" them and mail them from there. Well, they sneaked their way back into a drawer somewhere in the almost deserted apartment. Needless to say, they are as pristine as I found them. Maybe my sister-in-law will find them and send them while she is staying there. Or maybe I will find them again next winter?

I stopped sending holiday cards years ago. It was just after I discontinued mailing Christmas gifts.

When I moved to Europe in the late 70's and early 80's, I shopped for packable presents for our American family. Then I posted the boxes and hoped they would arrive intact on time. Then I waited and waited. Waited for just a word that the packages had arrived. Most of the time I got no response, so my enthusiasm for shopping and sending packages diminished until I just quit.

Then the same thing happened with sending Christmas cards.

This is not a "Bah, humbug" message. It is just the truth.

If you have read this far into my blog,

Have  a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Time for New Glasses

These eyeglass frames have seen their day. Literally and figuratively. I knew that they were probably damaged when a piece of furniture smashed into them (and my face!) last week when we were settling in all of the family furniture.

But this morning I saw the damage in the bathroom mirror.

My frames are six years old, although the lenses were replaced not quite three years ago. I should have expected some wear and tear on these foil covered metal frames, since they are my one and only glasses. And I can't read or see a thing without them. That means from the moment I open my eyes in the morning until the moment I close my eyes at night, those frames are perched on my nose. They are the same glasses I wear outside to weed eat or inside to slip on between mascara swats to see what I am doing with my makeup. So what do I expect after 6 years of intensive use?

Now just to pretend they don't look so bad until after the holiday rush when I can then go see my eye doctor and choose a new pair of frames.

Wonder what model I will try this time, in the year of my "retirement age"?



Monday, December 17, 2012

It is Shopping Time, In the Garden

Bet you thought I meant shopping for Christmas presents, but I have already finished that kind of shopping.

Tonight I shopped for lettuces in our raised beds in the garden. The eggplants and herbs "bit the dust" long ago from the cold temps, but there are still lots of lettuce and arugula. So tonight we accompanied our leftover lasagna with a fresh out of the garden lettuce, arugula, and store bought tomatoes salad. Yum Yum. Especially five days before winter begins a good home grown salad is a treat.

Back in October I also planted two types of garlic and onions in one of the beds, but we will have to wait for spring to enjoy them.

Last night we had a really delicious meal at our neighbors' home at the beginning of our road. T and G had invited their church friends and the folks on our road for a scrumptious evening meal.

G is a great cook and had delicious "dirty rice," potato salad, green beans, and cornbread. For dessert she had made a huge, yummy carrot cake and a couple of batches of bread pudding.

There were so many people there that we stood to eat, but my hub said that he had more control over his food than to sit on the couch. Then you eat like you are sitting in an airplane seat. That is always a challenge for both of us.

So standing was good.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Our Hearts are Broken

Remembering those who died on Friday in Newtown, Connecticut.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ax verses Ask

This week my adult son "asked" me why some white Louisiana guys say "ax" instead of "ask." I am sure that as a former English teacher I answered too quickly, so I decided to look for the real reason.

I found this response at http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/art/title.gif.

December 16, 1999


ax - ask


Sam Sherwood wrote:
There is a guy in my office who has a heavy southern accent and he says "ax" instead of "ask". When questioned he claims it's a regional pronunciation (Mississippi area), but I don't understand this since it sounds to me more like a regional mispronunciation. There is also a man in my office from the Bahamas and he too says "ax." Can you explain?
Thank you for asking (aksing) this question.

While the pronunciation /aks/ for ask is not considered standard, it is a very common regional pronunciation with a long history. The Old English verb áscian underwent a normal linguistic process called metathesis sometime in the 14th century. Metathesis is what occurs when two sounds or syllables switch places in a word. This happens all the time in spoken language (think nuclear pronounced as /nukular/ and asterisk pronounced as /asteriks/).

Metathesis is usually a slip of the tongue, but (as in the cases of /asteriks/ and /nukular/) it can become a variant of the original word. This alternative version in Old English was axian or acsian, as in Chaucer's: "I axe, why the fyfte man Was nought housband to the Samaritan?" (Wife's Prologue 1386). Ascian and axian co-existed and evolved separately in various regions of England. The ascian version gives us the modern standard English ask, but the axian variant ax can still be found in England's Midland and Southern dialects.

In American English, the /aks/ pronunciation was originally dominant in New England. The popularity of this pronunciation faded in the North early in the 19th century as it became more common in the South. Today the pronunciation is perceived in the US as either Southern or African-American. Both of these perceptions underestimate the popularity of the form.

/aks/ is still found frequently in the South, and is a characteristic of some speech communities as far North as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Iowa. It is one of the shared characteristics between African-American English and Southern dialects of American English. The wide distribution of speakers from these two groups accounts for the presence of the /aks/ pronunciation in Northern urban communities.

So in fact, your colleague is correct in calling /aks/ a regional pronunciation, one with a distribution that covers nearly half of the territory in the United States and England.

Heather


Found Topic

I found this 1950's advertisement on Pinterest this morning. Makes you wonder what planet the ad people lived on.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Re-tired

It is when I have a busy week like this that I know the meaning of retire.

Actually it should be called "re-tired."

Or maybe just plain tired.

Or maybe I need to be re-tired (re-treaded).

Whatever, I am ready to go back to bed, and it is only 9:15 am.

Be back later today.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Green Bean and Artichoke Heart Casserole

Here is my version of Green Bean Casserole for Cookin in de Keuken:

Green Bean and Artichoke Casserole

Prep: 5 minutes
Cooktime: 35 minutes
Makes at least 6 servings

Ingredients:
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can of Cream of Mushroom Soup--Campbell's
3/4 cup evaporated milk--Carnation
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/3 cups French Fried Onions--French's
2 (14 1/2 ounces) cans green beans, drained OR 2 (9 ounces) packages frozen cut green beans, thawed
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and cut into pieces
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:
Mix soup and milk, then add pepper,1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, beans, cut up artichoke hearts, and 2/3 cup fried onions in 1 1/2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs, and bake in 350 degrees F oven for 30 minutes. Top with remaining onions and Parmesan cheese and bake for 5 more minutes.
Serve hot. (even extra yummy reheated leftovers)

Blankets on the Agaves Time

Last evening my hub and I packed in our agave prizes under their winter blankets. The next few nights will be real freezers, and we do not want to lose any of our plants. And especially not our agaves! Now to wait until the nights are balmy, and then to take off the wraps until the next cold wave comes through. Winters here in Louisiana are always a surprise!

Speaking of surprises, we are finished with moving garderobes and recliners! After our monthly Keenagers luncheon today, Hub and I moved the last recliner up 22 steps to upstairs. Then we tackled the last garderobe that had been waiting patiently on the rolling cart in the garage. That involved going up only 2 steps from the garage to the house, but with such a heavy cabinet we were not eager to give that a try until today. Now all of the furniture is in its place.

Bring on the vacuum cleaner!  And Christmas decorations? 

Walmart Has Not "Ruined" Europe!

If you do your "Googling," you will find that Walmart has not ruined Europe.

In fact, England is enjoying their Asda (Walmart subsidiary), and Germany said "goodnight and goodbye" to JohnBoy Walton back in 2006.

As for the rest of Europe, there are still the quaint little shops that we remember from back when, and also the huge supermarkets and street markets with too many choices of everything (especially fresh vegetables!).

So if you haven't visited Europe in the last 10 to 20 years, maybe it is time to go back and see for yourself. Don't believe what you see on some American television networks. You know how they can stretch the TRUTH.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Our Dutch Friesian Staart Clock Works!

For recent photos of our new OLD Dutch Friesian staart clock, visit my new museum blogspot at http://wetcreek-museum.blogspot.com/. My hub found a great place in our dining room for the new addition to our clock collection. He still has to fine tune the bell thingy so that it will toll the hour and half hour, but we are amazed that it ticks and keeps good time.

As for the rest of the unpacking and sorting, we shortened the teak dining table, replaced the black Ikea chairs with proper wheat back dining chairs, and moved a large red rug from the living to the dining room. The big blue rug that we bought at the whirlwind auction back in October is now in the living room under the inherited round dining table and chairs. That area is now set up as a game or card area. I suppose back in the old days that would have been the smoking area, but not around here.

We still have one medium size (heavyweight) wardrobe on a cart out in the garage that needs a two step lift up into the house. When we figure out how to do that, we will be almost finished. Wish us luck. 

Or better yet, call us if you can come over to help.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Challenge: Who Sleeps the Most?

I am not sure who was the smarter this afternoon, my hub or our beagle.

When Flip (the hound) seemed really restless inside the house after another long morning of "hunting," my hub let the dog follow him out into the garage. Flip thought that we were going to take a ride in the car, so he made a beeline to the back of our Jeep. My hub opened the door, placed the dog blanket on the floor, and Flip jumped in. He was is heaven! So my hub closed the door, left the back window open, and came into the house.

That was the last that we heard from Flip until about two hours later when I heard a single bark.

As for my hub, he used the solitude to get a great nap in his favorite recliner. Now who was the winner?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Goodbye, 30 Year Old Bed

We slept on a brand new bed last night. Our 30 year old mattress leaned against the bedroom wall ( just in case the new one did not pass the "test drive.") Well, I am pretty sure we have a keeper. We both slept fine.

Thirty years ago in Rotterdam, we decided to purchase a king size bed. I know they have been popular here in the US for longer than that, but we were taking a leap into new territory in bedroom furniture in Europe.

The local Pullman mattress dealer had what we wanted, so we emptied our pocketbooks and got a new bed. Two box-springs and one HUGE and HEAVY king size mattress! That is the same bed that stayed with us through 30 years including 3 cities in The Netherlands (Berkel en Rodenrijs, The Hague, and Zoeterwoude), a month's cruise across the Atlantic in a container aboard a giant ship, many months storage in our red barn next to our new home under construction, and the last 5 years in our new home here.

After shopping around here in the South for a comparable set of mattresses and even purchasing a Sleep Number bed last December and then sending it back for a refund when we found out it was just a very expensive inflatable mattress, we decided to purchase a new Pullman in The Netherlands and ship it here. Soooooo, last spring we did just that. We shopped while we were there, purchased it, had it delivered to the uninhabited family apartment, and waited until we organized the shipment of inherited goods.

And now we have unpacked and painstakingly set up our two new box-springs and one new HUGE and HEAVY king size mattress that arrived with all of the "antiques" last Friday. We also read on the accompanying brochure that the mattress needs to be turned every month and flipped to the other side........I do not even want to think about it!!!!! If we keep up with that, this mattress set will never make it to its 30th birthday.

Can you hire people to flip mattresses? Just asking.



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Important Day, December 6

Besides this being THE most important day in our lives, I decided to see what else happened in history on our son's birthday, December 6.

343 Death of Saint Nicholas
1492 Haiti discovered by Columbus, at Mole Saint Nicolas
1849 Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery in Maryland
1865 13th Amendment is ratified, abolishing slavery
1877 1st sound recording made (Thomas Edison)
1922 Irish Free State Created
1978 Spain Free Election
1983 J. born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Chart Toppers in 1983:
All Night Long (All Night) - Lionel Richie
Say Say Say - Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson
Uptown Girl - Billy Joel
A Little Good News - Anne Murray

Happy Birthday, J.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Non-Sints This Year

Today we are much too busy to celebrate Sinterklaas avond. Maybe next year? Now back to work restocking these cabinets.



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Almost There

This morning we almost made it to the finish line. I mean we almost finished moving the cabinets into the house.

Before the two of us could bring in a secretary and a china cabinet/dry sink, I had to empty out our old farm cabinet that would make a move to the other side of the living room. So while my hub kept "sawing logs" in bed, I added some of our old stuff to the already full tables in the kitchen.

Then the fun began! We maneuvered the empty farm cabinet across the room, while one door dangled on one hinge. Next we lifted the secretary and transported it up the garage steps and down the hallways to its designated place in the living room. As our son would say, "there were some raised voices."

Then there was the china cabinet/dry sink piece. Getting it up on the little "hondje/dolly" was a feat, but it made it to its destination in one piece.

What could possibly be left in the garage? Wellllll, a really heavy clothes closet/wardrobe/chiffarobe ( that is destined for our bedroom), a grandfather clock for our foyer, a wooden bookcase for upstairs, and paintings that will need to be unboxed and hung. The rest is moved! Yesterday we even carried all 16 massive pieces of a sturdy German wardrobe upstairs to our guest bedroom!

This morning Hub said, "It looks like an antique shop." I corrected him. It looked more like a junky flea market.

It is all in the eye of the beholder, I guess.




Monday, December 3, 2012

Maintenance and Critters

Maintaining two blogs and getting anything else done will take some organization. But I am game!

Around 10:00 pm tonight the following photo rescued me, as far as blog topics go. If you look closely, in the left hand corner of the landing you can see a snake. Yes, a snake in an office stairwell. A snake in an office stairwell in a big office complex in a huge Texas city. What????

There are rumors that this same business has been plagued by raccoons from a nearby reservoir.
The best advice in the company email concerning this "wild animal" infestation was, "If you encounter an animal inside a building, please do the safe thing and make every effort to avoid them."

But I actually like the sign posted in the stairwell. Use Handrail. Someone needs to teach the snakes and raccoons to read English. TeeHee

I will never touch a handrail again without checking for snakes ;)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

And if it is broken and belonged to your great-grandma, transport it across the Atlantic Ocean.

The last two days as we unpacked the treasures we had shipped over from The Netherlands, this thought ran through my mind. I own an old dresser and sewing machine that belonged to my Mammaw on my mother's side of the family, but except for a broken watch, what did I inherit from my dad's side of the family?  Too many relatives and a greedy aunt or two?

Our son will inherit lots of good (and not so good) old things one day. I hope that before that time comes that we will have figured out what to do with "what's broke."

Thank goodness we found an old cigar box where my mother-in-law had saved all of the "broken pieces." And a double thank goodness that I saved that box when I decluttered their apartment three years ago when she and my father-in-law were planning to move to a care facility.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hub's Lift

Since my hub has made his special lift for his tractor, it has really come in handy. Yesterday the shipment from his parents' inheritance arrived, and without his creation we could not have accomplished unloading all of those 100 boxes in two hours.  It is just a shame that I did not catch a photo of him driving the lift. But here is one of his lift in action.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Buzz is One Year Old

Last Christmas holiday we (Hub, Flip, and I) dogsat with my youngest brother's new dog for about 8 days until the cutie (the dog) could be revealed on Christmas Eve.

My dear sister-in-law trusted us enough to leave the young pup with us, and we had an eventful week keeping the little critter from watering our brick floors. Actually, I am pretty sure that we house-broke Buzz in that time, but today he is a BIG outside dog.

I have a wonderful video of Buzz howling, but while I look for that, here is a baby picture.
Happy Birthday, Buzz!

Where oh where is that howling video?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Moving Blankets

It is that time of year again. Time to look for blankets. Our beagle Flip has always known that to keep his tush warm, he needs to sit on something warm. In this picture made last winter, he found a moving blanket draped over my rosemary plant. Protects the plant and the doggy bottom from the cold.
This morning there were no blankets (except of frost), so he came right back inside when I let him outside to do his thing. Later the sun was so warm that he forgot the chill and went out willingly. Funny dog.

A New Museum at Wetcreek

Having a lot of photos of brocante and antiques was not my goal for this blog, so this morning I officially opened the Wetcreek Museum blog at wetcreek-museum.blogspot.com/. We have so many old treasures that I wanted to document as much as I could with photos and provenance. I do this for no one else but me (I think).

 If you are remotely interested, the last of our shipments of family goods arrives tomorrow morning. Then the real fun begins. What goes where?

You Are Gifted

It is that time of year. Gift searching and gift giving.

I remember back in the early 70's when my annual salary was less than $5,000 and my Christmas gift limit per family member was $7.50. Why that strange amount? It was probably what the first purchased gift costed, so I kept that amount for the rest.

Back then we had only seven immediate family members (Mom, Dad, my two brothers, one sister-in-law, one grandchild, and me), so I had only six presents to whip up at Christmas. And whip up I sometimes did. Back then I sewed housecoats as Christmas presents. For friends I filled pretty glass jars with layers of dried beans or punched and studded oranges with cloves to make pomanders.

I never seemed to have a special boyfriend at Christmas, so that made gift giving easy. And there are no old "boyfriend" gifts stashed in the cupboards around here. No regrets about that either!

One of the best gifts I have ever received is this iPad. This fall it was a lifesaver when our laptop did not function properly while we were in Europe. Although my hub still thinks the touch stuff is annoying, I love my iPad!

Just wish my gift receivers will think the same about my homemade gifts this year. ;)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Testing These Image Possibilities

Waiting on customs to release this container of our recent shipment.

Filling up the container.


This reminded me of a Laurel and Hardy movie where they dropped a piano out of a window in a tall building.


Finally Sold!

My Dutch sister-in-law and her hub just recently sold their lovely old city farmhouse after having it on the market for over three years. The beautiful blue hydrangeas shown above out in the backyard were surely the pride and joy of the "gardener." My hydrangeas in my front flowerbed will never look like that! :( Our heat in the summer is much too intense.

Dutch city farmhouse
We are extremely happy for A and P, and wish them all the best with their packing, storing, and moving to Ceintuurbaan. Hope all of the stress of changing homes will be gone in time to have a Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Exactly Four Years Ago!

Four years ago this was the way our pond drainage pipe looked.

Guess what, Folks, the pipe looks exactly the same (sans waterfall) today.  Only now there is a barbed wire fence about where I am standing in the photo above.   A fence that separates us from OUR pipe.

To the left of the pipe can now be found an elaborate display of riprap.  The riprap is what we requested that the neighboring landowners would allow over four years ago.

Now they have the riprap, OUR pipe, no natural drainage, AND a barbed wire fence to keep someone off their land.

And what did we get? A new levee (and all the headaches that involved), a smaller and new pond, erosion along the banks of our new pond, and a huge "airstrip" of rutted, eroded land that separates our pond levee from the neighboring landowners' property and barbed wire fence!

Bah Humbug! (Thanks, taxpayers, for paying over $50,000 for this debacle!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Today is Summer!

Yesterday we had winter. No really, yesterday morning it was so cold here that I could have worn my "beremuts" ( bear skin cap) instead of my wool crocheted cap when I took my early morning walk with Flip.

It was so cold that our Rainbird irrigation meter out by the barn may have frozen. And all of the little lettuce plants were wilted from the cold. And our rooftop was solid white from the frost. And my single tomato plant in the boxwood cutting box in the front flowerbed froze. That is how cold it WAS.

Today is a different story. Rain came through from the southwest and along came the warm weather. Temps today should be up to 26 C (80 F).

Actually that is a more spring type temp than summer. But for friends in Europe, we have summer today. :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Greek Yoghurt and Devil's Food Cake Mix Cookies

That is all it takes to make dark chocolate cookies. Since I had waaaay too much Greek style yoghurt on hand, I looked for a cookie recipe to use up the excess yoghurt. I found the following recipe on several blogspots, so I gave it a try.

Here is my version:

Quick Chocolate Cookies

Yield: 32 cookies  Prep Time : 15 minutes.  Cook Time: 10 minutes per cookie sheet

Ingredients:

1 cup Kroger's Greek nonfat yoghurt (all natural-1 cup 150 calories)
1 Betty Crocker Devil's Food Super Moist Cake Mix ( pudding in the mix)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup Lotus Speculoos Hagel (sprinkles)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.
Line one large cookie sheet with a silicone mat.
Pour yoghurt and cake mix into a large bowl and stir with a fork. Continue to stir until all dry cake mix is incorporated into the yoghurt.
Stir in the chocolate chips and Speculoos sprinkles.
Place rounded tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheet at about 2 inches apart. Press down with moistened and sugar coated fork.
Bake for 10 minutes. 
Cookies will be very soft, so let them cool on the silpat mat until they have firmed up. Then remove them from the cookie sheet and place on cooling rack.
Let cool completely before storing them.
Makes very soft cookie.

The original recipe is from www.kirbiecravings.com:

Healthier Three Ingredient Fudgy Chocolate Cookies

Yield: 20 cookies
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 20 mins

ingredients:

1 box of chocolate fudge cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1 cup of Greek strained nonfat plain yogurt (I use Chobani or Fage)
1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips

directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper. Pour cake mix and yogurt into a large glass mixing bowl and stir with a spoon. It may appear that there is too much dry batter to blend with the yogurt but if you continue to stir, it will come together into one uniform dough. A little more cake mix will stick to the yogurt with each stir. After the dough comes together, if it really does seem too dry, add in one more tablespoon of yogurt and mix until blended.
2. Stir in chocolate chips. Take rounded tablespoons of dough and place on cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Press down gently on dough as it does not spread that much during baking. Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes. If you touch them, they will still be very soft. The cookies will firm up and set after finished cooling. Let cookies cool on the cookie sheet and firm up before removing them from the baking sheets.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lost Son-in-law

Last night my youngest brother lost his son-in-law! Well, let's put it a different way. His son-in-law seemed to be lost.

The two guys came out here to my brother's property to hunt deer. They came after three o'clock in the afternoon, and we thought that was strange. At this time of year darkness falls quickly and at around 5:00 pm.

But they know better than we non-hunters, right? Wrong this time!

At a little before six my brother drove up to ask if we had seen his daughter's young husband. My hub and I were just then saying goodbye to our son, but as soon as he drove off then we started turning on as many lights inside and outside so that the lost hunter could see his way back in the otherwise pitch dark woods.

My brother seemed pretty calm about the whole thing until he could not understand why his son-in-law was not answering his mobile phone. Knowing that we don't get good reception out here in the country, my hub and I were not too surprised at that. 

Before I could pick up the phone to call our kind hunting neighbor and friend to come help my brother go out in a real search effort, I heard, "He's back." And there he was! Not lost at all. Just staying out until dark like his father-in-law had said he should do. (Sigh)

A Fence for Nothing

I think I remember back in the 60's or 70's that a governor here in Louisiana commissioned a bridge to be built from nowhere to nowhere. Maybe it was called the Sunshine Bridge? The governor of "You Are My Sunshine" fame, probably?

Well, we have a new fence that separates nothing from nothing! And it is a barbed wire fence, at that! Those pesky (pesty?) paparazzi landowners next door screwed the US government and taxpayers. 

After three years and $50,000 of taxpayers' money, they finally have what we tried to get the landowners to agree to back when. Our pond is a bit smaller, but we have a new levee (which we did not ask for), AND there is riprap on the ground under the original drainpipe. OUR original drainpipe remains on the neighboring landowners' property just like it was three years ago! Not much has changed on their property. But now since our pond draining situation has changed, in case of a really heavy rain or hurricane, our overflow will drain right over the second levee and right NEXT to the riprap. Fence separating nothing! Riprap for scrap! What a waste!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful For...

I am thankful for...by Nancy J. Carmody

...the mess to clean up after a party
because it means I have been surrounded by friends.
...the taxes I pay
because it means that I'm employed.
...the clothes that fit a little too snug
because it means I have enough to eat.
...my shadow who watches me work
because it means I am out in the sunshine.
 ...the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot
because it means I am capable of walking.
...all the complaining I hear about our government
because it means we have freedom of speech.
...that lady behind me in church who sings off key
because it means that I can hear.
...lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing
because it means I have a home.
...my huge heating bill
because it means that I am warm.
...weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day
because it means that I have been productive.
...the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours
because it means that I am alive.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Yoghurt Needs a Warm Bed

Yes! I am home and back to making my own Greek yoghurt. Last week I bought a couple of containers of Kroger's Greek yoghurt, but that was not a success. It tasted like schoolboard chalk pudding. Don't know how I know how that tastes, but it tasted like chalk would probably taste. Chalky and yuck! I ate it anyway, but I brought some home to use for my bacteria starter. Sounds awful, but I think that was missing in the Lidl and Albert Heijn varieties in The Netherlands. Yoghurt needs to "grow." And it needs a warm place to sleep while it is growing.

Here is what I did yesterday:

Soon after I took my walk with Flip, I turned the triple pot crock pots on low and poured in the whole milk.

With the lids on the pots, I waited about 3 1/2 hours for the milk temperature to come up to about 170-180 degrees F.

Then I turned off the crock pots and removed the pots to a cooling rack. When the milk cooled off to about 110 degrees F, I whisked in 2 big tablespoons of the Kroger Greek yoghurt (warmed up to room temp) into each of the three crock pots.

Then I panicked! My usual warm yoghurt sleeping place was now like ice. This small room is situated next to the indoor pool, but the pool has been inactive for the month we were away. And since it is now late November instead of hot summer, where do I find a warm place in a cool house?

Almost everywhere I turned, the space was too cold to keep my new yoghurt around 100 degrees F for a long time. So I put them back in the crock pot elements, turned each one on warm, and measured the temp for the next few minutes until I was sure that they would stay warm. Then I shut off the switches, unplugged the machine, and covered the entire triple crock pot apparatus in 4 huge towels and many, many layers of wrapping paper from my new soup bowls. Then I crossed my fingers and waited for the bacteria to do their jobs from lunch until 10:00 pm. At bedtime they all three looked "done," so I popped them into the fridge for a cold night. When I finally got around to checking on the yoghurt at 10:30 this morning, they looked and tasted like professionally made yoghurt. I saved a half jam jar of the new yoghurt to use as a starter in 10 days.But I strained out most of the whey from the rest through my paint strainer mesh for three more hours and then bottled the new yoghurt. Now I have enough to feed an army!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Remotes Help Men Conquer the World

Where is the button to just turn on the TV?

Yesterday morning before my son left for the weekend, he showed me how to operate the remote for his apparatus(what is the plural of that?). It looked so simple that I did not try it myself. What a mistake! Last night I turned off the set, and now for the life of me I can not get a channel. Only as I punch the button to turn it off do I see the news channel that I want to watch. And then BLIP, it disappears and everything goes black.

Later, when I think he is awake, I will phone him and ask directions.

Now I know why all the men that I see driving their cars to work are talking on their cell phones. They are explaining to their wives how to turn on the TV.


Friday, November 16, 2012

No Dummy

Who says beagles are dumb? 

When our Flip realized that he was stuck with me (and only me) this afternoon, he whined one weak whine and disappeared. When I realized he wasn't asleep under my propped up legs, I started searching for him. I think this may be a rerun. I was experiencing déjà vu, since this has happened before. 

So I first looked on the staircase landing, then his bed in the dining room, and then I remembered that I found him a couple of months ago in our son's clothes closet. 

Nope, he was nowhere! 

Finally I climbed the stairs and peeked into the bedroom where we sleep when we visit, and there he was. Sleeping on his little covered mattress next to our bed where he always sleeps when we visit our son in the big city.

Smart pup!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Domino Effect

We are back in the really big city with our son and our beagle.

Our son is old enough and wise enough to take care of himself and of us, but the beagle is another story.

As Flip had missed a few walks the last month, we are playing catch up. Last evening around six o'clock he and I took a stroll down my favorite neighborhood street. As he passed in front of each house on the block, he set off the barking dogs. By the time we got to the corner of the street, there had been a domino effect set into motion.

A cacaphony of barking dogs all because one pooch was taking an evening stroll! What a sound!

This morning at 5:30 Flip and I were both awake, so we went out for an early stroll in the dark. Luckily the dogs along the route were fast asleep, or we would have had a repeat performance of the Barking Dogs Review.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Look into the Past

Before we cross back over the puddle, today we drove out into the beautiful Dutch countryside to visit a farmhouse previously owned by my hub's ancestors.

Although a rich businessman and his wife remodeled the typically Dutch farmhouse years ago, some of the original characteristics are still intact. The bedstee (bedstead) in the kitchen has become the long-haired retriever's dog bed. Hub said he is sure that his ancestors are turning over in their graves over that. Dogs were meant to sleep on anything except the owner's bed. I agree!

Then we saw the wonderful old hearth with old Dutch tiles near a built-in china cabinet in the kitchen. In the living room the present owners enjoy the monstrous stone fireplace mantle that originally contained homefires in a French mansion. The original ceiling beams and boards made us wonder just how old this farm really is. And to my surprise, the original feed troughs were still where they had been for ages. (Now in the living room!)

We found information about this farm among my deceased  inlaws' papers, and we decided to check it out. You can, too, since it was put on the market for sale six weeks ago! Please take a look at this historical monument, and for 1,000,000 euros it could be yours!
http://www.drieklomp.nl/Verwoldseweg-28-LAREN-GLD-7245VWm5W128

I will be "out of pocket" for a short while. Be back as soon as I can get connected to the Internet.


Photo of bedstee (bedstead) in the farmhouse we visited.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dark to Light

When I got up this Sunday morning I was ready to write about the dark, gloomy weather here in The Netherlands. And how it was time to go back home to sunny and warmer weather in the US.

Before I could get the dishes out of the dishwasher, there was light! And sun, and more sun!

The temps are still on the cool side at 47 degrees F, but the sun is shining!

We rearranged the living room in the apartment so that we now have a reading/visiting sitting area in front of the huge glass balcony windows. So no need for lamps this afternoon. We are enjoying the cheery sunshine on this chilly November Sunday afternoon.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Close To You

Before I forget, I am passing the 300th blog post with this post. Never dreamed I would write so much in less than one year. Now on to the next hundred postings!

Today I realized what a small and crowded country we are in while doing some last minute shopping for dinner. My hub went to a different supermarket to return some plastic water bottles and pick up some cheese while I went on my own into my favorite Albert Heijn grocery store. It was terribly busy with lots of really old feeble ladies balancing themselves behind rollators and mothers and fathers with tiny children pushing miniature shopping carts. If you can get an American size Walmart out of your mind and envision a significantly smaller Dutch Albert Heijn, you can imagine me dodging the other shoppers. By the way, they did not dodge me. I have proof on my heels and shins.

Then the strangest thing happened. While I reached into the glass doored display case for a package of grated cheese, I was confronted by a man's face only about three inches next to mine. As I turned to expect my sometimes sneaky and joking hub, I almost came in facial contact with a stranger. I was so shocked that he was so close that I almost slammed the glass door on his head. Then he said, "I needed to go there, too."

I have been laughing ever since.

Friday, November 9, 2012

My Big Fat Sour Greek Yoghurt

What happened to Greek Yoghurt here in The Netherlands? For the last few weeks I have been "taste testing" different Greek yoghurts, and nothing tastes like the yoghurt I know. It must be about time for me to go back home and make my own.

 In the meantime, I might even try the following recipe:
http://video.about.com/greekfood/Make-Yogurt-at-Home.htm.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tile Tattoos

Since our furnishings moved out and are crossing the great puddle, we have had a chance to see this apartment in semi-nude condition.

Although it is a lovely, bright place to stay, we now notice a few things that could be improved.

Back in March we removed the Astro turf from the balcony floor that was beginning to harvest a good crop of moss.After treating the tiles with soda and vinegar, the green thing is under control. We also removed a black safety mat from the master bathroom floor back in March, and the beautiful blue floor tiles are shining again. 

When we cleaned the carpet in the living room a couple of weeks ago, we rolled up the huge red Persian carpet and found a perfectly clean spans of blue carpet underneath where we now have our reading area. Two days ago we bought a "make do" wooden dining table from Ikea and painfully (without drill!) put that together to go with our four 2nd hand wooden dining chairs from our favorite Kringwinkel in Twello.

Yesterday we walked into town and back to look for "tile tattoos" to improve the kitchen appearance. We found what we wanted at Xenos, but now I am trying to decide whether I like the ecru flowery tattoo or the old Dutch blue one. I am leaniing toward the more modern ecru design, since I decided to try to keep our furnishings of this place different from our home in the states.

Sorry, no photos of the flat (apartment). It still looks like we are camping out!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mean What You Say and Say What You Mean

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful one-hundred percent!”
― Dr. SeussHorton Hatches the Egg


This morning I heard an interview of an American lady in Colorado. She expressed my feelings exactly about the election results. 

Sorry, Mr. Romney.  I never was convinced that you meant what you said and said what you meant. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Kan Niet, Mag Niet, Moet Niet

Our heater in the apartment needs inspection and possibly cleaning, since a sticker on the machine states that the last inspection was done in October 2010.

As we have only one more full week here, my hub phoned the service company today to set up an appointment. The service lady my hub talked to said the appointment could be scheduled in two weeks, but we will be gone by then. When my husband asked politely if someone could come this week, the receptionist connected him with an inspector. And, believe it or not, he can come to check out the heater tomorrow between 8 and 12 noon!

Thus the "kan niet, mag niet, moet niet" Dutch mentality of the 1970's still exists. They can not, may not, and must not, but, of course, they will. And then what about tomorrow morning?

Amazing!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ladies, Vote! It Is Imperative!

Americans, check out the following website-- http://www.ladypartsjustice.com/.

Be sure to go vote on Tuesday, November 6.


Induction Cooking, Yes!

When we moved to the US back in 2006, we took an induction cooktop with us. (We also took 5 toilets that could be installed inside the bathroom wall, but that is another story.) We took the induction cookstove, because we knew our new house would be an all electric house. Before that time, I had always prepared our meals on gas stoves. While I lived in our barn apartment for two years, I had an electric cooktop. Luckily I did not have to cook many important meals during that time, since an electric burner usually burns up everything, including my dinner!

Induction cooking is not new in Europe nor in the US. But I am amazed that very few people know too much about how fast and easy it is. The biggest problem is making sure that you have the correct pots and pans for cooking on the stove. Induction only works when you use a cooking vessel with a bottom that is attracted to a magnet. Up until I ruined my Dutch bank card, I used to carry a small magnet in my purse to check out any new cookware I was planning to buy. The things we do!

In this apartment we have set up an induction cooktop on top of the gas cookstove, since induction is far safer. Only one cooking vessel, a brand new wok, in the inlaws' kitchen worked on the induction stove. So while we were in Germany last week, we bought a skillet, a soup pan, and a small sauce pan from an 86 year old German lady who ran a very unusual household shop. She moved very slowly and even spoke English to me when she realized I was an American. Our purchase may have been her largest sell for the day.

Tonight we had boerenkool (kale) stamppot. Our two burner induction cooker and a new soup pan plus the new/used wok cooked our dinner to perfection. Check back to a post on October 10 for the recipe.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Jysk vs. Ikea

Vacationing in this "empty" apartment is not as bad as we thought it might be. Having kept cooking essentials in the kitchen cabinets makes meal planning and prep reasonably easy. Who cares that the plates and cups do not match? We don't even worry about that at home in the US.

Yesterday we had just about had it with trying to watch tv and maybe even take a nap in front of the tv while sitting in the two remaining winged chairs in the living room. Last Spring we purchased  Ikea footstools to give us more relaxing comfort, but we are used to sitting in comfy recliners to watch tv.

So we found an ad from Seats and Sofas on the Internet and went out to get our two inexpensive "relax-fauteuils." When they proved to be worse than we thought with plastic bag upholstery, we walked down to the other shops on the furniture boulevard. Most of the shops were cheap junk shops that we knew did not have much furniture, so we kept looking.

Then we saw Jysk. Somewhere I had read about this store, so we popped in to look around. Everything had a low price, and then we saw our two black recliners. The floor models were worn, but that was even better than the winged dings at the apartment. Before we could get back to the front cashier to make our purchase, we checked out the rest of the store. There were good bargains on everything! My kind of store! If we ever need to furnish an apartment or house here in Europe, I am definitely going back there. Needless to say the merchandise will not last for a lifetime, but we already have that kind of stuff in our real home in America or on the Bonn Express.

So Ikea, you have met your match! Jysk warning ya!
(And we came home with two NEW black recliners!)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Turkish Yoghurt Today


Most of my blog readers know that I eat yoghurt every single day, and that I make my own Greek yoghurt whenever I am at home. While we are on vacation in Europe, I have had good and not so good Greek yoghurt. Yesterday I bought Turkish yoghurt as well as Greek yoghurt in order to compare the taste. I love the following story from The Gutsy Gourmet:  

      

 

A FEW NOTES ON YOGURT

http://www.thegutsygourmet.net/yogurt.html

Yogurt is made and consumed by many different ethnic groups throughout the world. It is probably most popular in Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Western Asia. It's popularity in the United States is quite recent and was due to the emigration to the U.S. from other countries.

As one of Armenian ancestry, I had heard stories of the difficulty in bringing in, through U.S. customs, the bacterial culture that is needed to make yogurt. As immigrants were processed at Ellis Island, the INS officers would look at the little jars of yogurt starter carried by the immigrants. they would have most certainly opened the jars and smelled the sour, acrid odor of the bacterial culture. It was of course immediately thrown into the trash. In correspondence to the old country, one Armenian immigrant bemoaned the fact that they could neither buy or make this diet staple they had enjoyed for centuries. An enterprising woman in Turkish-Armenia, who was shortly leaving for America, came up with a solution to the problem. She took clean white handkerchiefs and dipped them into a large bowl of yogurt and then hung them out to dry. She then carefully folded them with her other linen and packed them in her trunk. After she got to the U.S. she had no difficulty in going through customs with clean white hankies. Once settled, she dipped these hankies in warm milk and thus freed the bacteria to culture and make yogurt.

Yogurt is a very healthful milk product and is really the precursor to making cheese. You can drain Yogurt of the whey and have a very high quality cream cheese. It has for centuries been a cure for ulcers and just recently used in the replenishing of bacterial flora in the digestive tract after extensive antibiotic therapies which deplete the body of good bacteria as well as the bad.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat in Wintery Europe

Although our Fall vacation did not turn out as planned, we enjoyed our four day loop through Germany.

I am sure there are many folks where we live in the US who would have loved what we did the last four days.

The snowy Black Forest was something that you only dream about in the warm southern states. And the beautiful cathedral in Strasbourg, France was more beautiful than a decorated wedding cake.

The bakery fresh hard and soft bread rolls and delicious cheeses and ham for breakfasts are difficult to find where we live in America.

Fields freshly ploughed and waiting for cold weather and then an early spring decorated our views as we drove along the lazy country roads. And the cows were still grazing in the grass fields enjoying the last rays of sun and warmth before a gray, cold winter in the barn stalls.

And today before making the last scarey drive back on the German and Dutch autobahns, we visited the Birkenstock outlet store and the Villeroy and Boch outlet store to buy a few souvenirs. 

The weather in Europe may have tricked us and no snow tires changed our vacation plans, but we came home with the treats.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

No Cuckoo Clocks in the Black Forest

While driving through powdered sugar coated monster Christmas trees in the Black Forest of Germany today, we actually thought we would see a shop that sells cuckoo clocks. Maybe those types of souvenirs are really extinct.  (We tried to find shops that sold cameos two years ago in Italy. They do not exist anymore either.)

Our morning drive in the sun was enjoyable, but then the temperature warmed up and the skies became gray around 3:00 pm. Then the rain drizzle started, and the fun was over. We did take a quick walk through the center of Strasbourg and saw the beautiful stone carved cathedral. And the underground parking garage was even an experience for me.

Tonight we are staying in Hotel Saarblick in Mettlach, Germany. This was my idea, since I remembered that we had visited a Villeroy and Boch outlet store here many, many years ago. Now there is an even larger store, plus other outlets. I even saw a Birkenstock shoe outlet that I plan to hit tomorrow after breakfast. So we have plans for tomorrow morning, but then we are heading back to The Netherlands.

There are plenty of touristy things we haven't done there in over 20 years!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Changed Directions

Rules, regulations, and SNOW for Halloween! Instead of heading to Croatia, we are driving across Germany. Our nephew warned us that we probably needed winter/snow tires on our rental car after November 1 in Austria. Rental company did not!!!!! So no risk taking this trip, and we are changing plans.

Today we drove in and out of snowy, winter landscapes that are not common at this time of year. The roads were reasonably clean, but the highway department around Stuttgart was busy cutting down many snow-laden fallen trees.

We especially drove to Stuttgart to visit the Mercedes Museum, and of course Monday is "rest" day for most museums in Europe. We should have known that!!! (and No, Son, we are not going back tomorrow.)

Now to sleep in Hotel Krone in Wildberg tonight and travel across to Strasbourg tomorrow. Just winging it from now on!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

At the Red Horse Inn

Since the winter time began here this morning, we decided to make our evening stop around 5:00 pm (German time) just outside of Nurnberg.

Tonight we are sleeping and eating in Heroldsberg at the Rotes Ross Hotel (alias Red Horse Inn). This establishment was granted hotel/inn permission way back in 1600.  In 1856 it became a member of the Hotel-Gasthof im Familienbesitz. Now the Sorgel family owns and manages the hotel/restaurant.

We have the feeling that there aren't too many people sleeping here this Sunday night. We have the largest room on our floor with a king size bed with real down duvets, a luxurious bath/toilet, desk, couch, chair, coffee table, luggage shelf, clothes closet, television (with CNN), and internet access. What else do you need?

After my hub takes his beauty nap (driving on the German autobahn is not the most pleasant thing in the world), we will try out the restaurant. I just read that a specialty is "Wild." My Dutch father-in-law always loved this time of year so that he could eat venison, pheasant, etc. Bet my youngest brother would like that, too. I'll just have to see what else is on the menu before I go "Wild." 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Time to Vacation

For the last six months we have sweated and worked hard inside and outside of our homes, so now is finally the time to go on vacation.

Bet you think that is strange to hear in late October, but tomorrow we are off to Croatia. Now you know we must be crazy, right? Who goes to Croatia on vacation? Lots of people, but most go during the summer. We had some things to do here first, so that means our vacation is a little later than what you would expect. Or maybe it is a little earlier than what you would expect. I guess it is how you look at it.

The temps in Croatia should be pleasant, but we have to drive through the cold weather first to get there. There was snow in Munich last night! Tonight here the temperature is already freezing. So our suitcase is full of warm clothes and plenty of socks.

No more bare feet and short pants!

That was last Monday ;)))

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dogs Welcome and Free WiFi at McDonalds in Zwolle

Of course, I mean Zwolle, The Netherlands where the McDonalds has a dog eating and drinking station (inside the restaurant!) and the WiFi is FREE!

This afternoon we were out Kringloopwinkel (secondhand goods) shopping when we decided to eat lunch at a new McDonalds in an shopping area outside of Zwolle, The Netherlands. Although the restaurant was brand new, it was very small. Any woman over an American size 18 would have trouble turning around ( or sitting down!) in the restroom toilet stall.

Other than that, it was huge in extras. We ate a really good fresh Tasty hamburger that reminded me of a Burger King Whopper, but it was better with strips of bacon.

Then I checked to see if  WiFi was really free and accessible. It was! 

Then I noticed the dog feeding station near the entrance to the restaurant. What a surprise at an American restaurant (but in a very pet friendly country).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Carpet Cleaning

Since most of  the furniture is out of the apartment and on its way to a new home, we decided to try to clean this old carpet floor before we rip it out. Early this morn my hub went out to get the machine and cleaning fluid, and I attacked the spider webs. Luckily we have saved most of the cleaning supplies in the pantry/ storage room. Until we sell this thing, we still need to keep it presentable  for potential buyers and livable for our visits.

I found a really long cleaning rod with a very dirty cloth attached to the head. After I took off the cloth, I added a clean towel and attached it with rubber bands. Then I attacked the web collections on the 13 foot ceilings. I can still see a few that I missed, but the majority are gone or attached to the cleaning cloth.

Then I vacuumed the whole apartment and tried to stay ahead of the hub who was busy with cleaning solution and vacuum wand. We were busy from 11-3, and now know for sure that we are going to replace this azure blue carpet with a hardwood floor sometime in the future.

Now to return this apparatus to the Dutch version of Home Depot and to get on with our vacation.

Cleaning houses, bah! Not fun on any continent!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall Carpet

Lovely autumn carpet from fallen leaves. Every single moment the carpet changes color and texture.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What a Circus!

We still have 12 hours before the movers come, and my hub is already running up and down the halls.

He tried to reserve a place for the container truck to park tomorrow early, and no one is cooperating. He put out three brand new moving boxes containing bricks to mark the extra parking place for the moving company. First a box just disappeared! Then he went back later to check and caught a man emptying out the second packing box and loading it into his car. My hub shouted for the man to drop it and was told they thought it was trash. A new packing box costs 5 Euros, and stopping to collect one is a good deal. That is unless my hub sees you stealing his box!

Hub finally just gave up and placed the last two boxes into our rental car. Before he goes to bed tonight late he will set out the boxes one more time. Then we will see if the packing guys can park near our apartment.

Whirlwind Auction

Today is a day of rest in the eye of the storm of events around here. Last night we spun everything out of control with a last minute visit to an auction.

Here is the story:

We had been following a local auction in search of paintings or such that we still want to own. Well, last night we participated in an auction for the very first time for both of us. We were there to bid on a clock. Our item was number 340 of 400 items, and as usual we were the first to arrive and our bidding number was 1.

The auction began at 7:00 pm, and things began rolling. There were really not enough bidders in the room, so most items went unsold. The auctioneer could not even give some things away, it was so bad. But he kept up his enthusiasm and his speed. I bid on some pottery and never knew whether I actually bought it. Luckily it wasn't too expensive. Then the Persian carpets came up for bidding. As we are going to leave behind here a big red one, I bid on a big blue one. Again I wasn't sure if I was the winner of the bidding, since the auctioneer raced through the whole deal. That was almost too much for my hub. At that point the whole auction hall heated up for him. I think he panicked. His whole demeanor changed. Maybe he was afraid I was going to put him on the auction block (No Chance!), but everything was going too fast for him. And for me, too. Can you imagine sitting through and bidding in a foreign language?

Finally hub got his color back in his face, and we got closer to the clock we had come for. #329 was a similar clock, and we said we would see how that went and then bid on #340. The first clock came in way cheaper than we had expected and went unsold. So we waited for "our" clock. And we got it for a reasonably cheap price! Mission accomplished!

Now the next part. Paying for whatever we actually bought!!!! We stood in the short line to the paymaster's office and giggled that we were so stupid that we didn't even know what we were going to take home. Then the big moment came. I had bought the big, heavy rug, and Hub had his clock. We paid and stuffed the treasures in our rented car and drove towards the apartment.

While lugging the too awkward and too heavy items up to the apartment we had to laugh again. Why are we doing such crazy things as this in our retirement age? Because we still can. Short and simple. TeeHee.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Shorts Weather in Nederland

Who would have dreamed that we would be using the air conditioner and that I would be looking for shorts on October 22 ? And yes, we are still in The Netherlands!

Since we have no clothes dryer, I quickly did the wash this afternoon, and it is dry after only four hours on the drying rack! Even the heavy bath towels!

Temperatures are warmer here than in Italy or Croatia. But by the end of the week, we will have freezing temps. So we had better enjoy the warmth and sun while we can.

Now back to the warm, sunny balcony for perhaps the last rays of an Indian Summer.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Screaming Chinese Takeaway

At least once while we are in The Netherlands, we pick up Chinese takeaway food from our favorite Chinese takeaway. This evening we decided to walk there instead of going to the trouble of taking the rental car out of the garage and the gated apartment building. 

Within 15 minutes we entered the small Chinese takeaway and ordered our dinner of Babi Pangang (sweet and sour pork), flavored noodles, and kroepoek (shrimp chips). The Chinese lady who runs the business is very friendly, but very loud. It sounds a bit like she shouts at all of the customers. 

Tonight was like any other time we have been there. She shouted a greeting, took our order, and shouted the amount of money that we owed her. In less than 10 minutes she returned with our order and shouted for us to come pick it up. 

One customer sitting near us waiting for his order could not contain his laughter. We were not the only ones to be enjoying the screaming Chinese lady! And when we got back to the apartment, the food was outstanding, too. We had so much food, that I don't have to cook tomorrow night either. What better vacation than that?