Friday, June 29, 2018

Easy cranberry muffins

I can often get great deals on cereal at the salvage groceries.  Last month I got two boxes of Quaker Multigrain Flakes with cranberries and apple for $1.

I decided to use some to make some muffins.

I followed a muffin recipe from my very old Betty Crocker cookbook (40+years old), substituting the Wheaties called for with my Quaker flakes.

They were yummy for breakfast and would also go well with a light dinner or for a snack.

1 egg
1/2 cup milk  (I substituted orange juice)
1/4 cup oil
2 cups Quaker Multigrain Flakes with cranberries and Apple
handful of dried cranberries for fun (optional)
Mix above well and let sit for ten minutes or so

1 cup flour
1/2 cup of sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
Mix well

Put into a greased muffin tin and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes
Makes 12 muffins

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

June: An Unusual Month for Buying and Eating.

We have been on vacation this month visiting our daughter in Berlin and taking a two week river cruise on the Danube and Rhine rivers.  Food was either provided or fell under the vacation budget.

Now that we are back,  I have allocated $12.31/day for 5 days or $61.55 to get us to the end of the month of June.

This will be needed to restock our bare refrigerator.

July we will be back to normal.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Literally Modern Cologne

Cologne was a bit of a letdown.

The city has a long Roman history.

It was a major city during the Middle Ages.

In 1815 it became part of the Kingdom of Prussia.

After WWI, it was part of the Weimer Republic and suffered inflation and hyperinflation.

During WWII, the city was heavily bombed, destroying 96% of its buildings.

The decisions made when rebuilding the city focused on creating a modern city of the 1950-1960's.

Modern architecture abounds.

Rectangular cement buildings are everywhere.

Except for the Cathedral, it's as if the city has no history.

A little sad.

Friday, June 22, 2018


Tomy Temerson,  a musician with his own Wikipedia page and one of the best concert level players in the world, was brought on board to perform a concert for us on the oldest folk music instrument of the German speaking countries of Austria, Switzerland and Germany:  the zither.

The zither is very difficult to play.  You must play the melody and the accompaniment at the same time.  Just like with the harp, piano, organ and guitar.

Playing the zither is like playing three guitars at once:  melody, bass and rhythm.
The musician must play three different rhythms at once with only two hands.

There are 42 strings in total:  5 melody and 37 accompaniment, on a concert zither.

To play it well, the player must develop a full set of thick calluses on both hands.  The calluses allow the player to get between the strings to pluck them or hold the melody strings down when playing the instrument.  Without calluses this is quite painful.

To tune the instrument by ear takes 45 minutes.
And since the zither is very sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, it must be tuned every time it is played.

Listening to a zither concert is like listening to three classical guitarists play perfectly together.  However, only one very skilled musician is playing all the guitars.  Bravo!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Rhine River Valley

Today we took a beautiful and relaxing morning cruise through the Rhine River Valley.

Wine grapes have  been grown along the Rhine since Roman times.  The vineyards are beautifully terraced along the steep sides.  Today, most of the grapes grown here are Riesling grapes.

Some of the vines are young, 3-20 years old.  Some are medium age, 20-50 years old.  Some, 50 plus years, are considered old,  Using a mixture of these grapes gives the wine a complexity and balance.

Originally, some of the fortifications along the river were originally built to protect the vineyard owned by the church.

Also, half timbered houses, small villages, and castles high above the river abound.

All but one of the medieval castles along the Rhine were destroyed by the French in 1689 to weaken the German defenses.  A lot later many were rebuilt by the state or privately and are now private residences, hotels or hostels.

At one place you will see the Statue of Germania, like our Statue of  Liberty and from same time period, standing majestic, high in the vineyards.

In the 1950's Germany gave a mountain along the Rhine to the Netherlands so that they could use the rock to reinforce their dams.  Although Germany expected them to later return the mountain, the Netherlands has never given it back. So you still have a piece of the Netherlands on the banks of the Rhine.

Some tunnels along the Rhine were used by the Nazis to hide art and other valuables.  They were made to look like ancient fortifications by the Nazis because the allies had orders not to bomb the ancient castles and fortifications.

In one town there is a connected pub and church.  You must enter and exit the church through the pub.  I don't know which came first, the church or the pub.  Unique.  Have a pint or two on Saturday then proceed to church on Sunday to confess your sins.  One stop shopping.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018


Rothenberg is a city that defines what picturesque is.

 Its largely preserved Medieval Old Town, with nary a modern building in sight, is still fully contained inside the original walls of the city.  Ancient cobblestone abounds.

 After the Thirty Years War in the 1600's, the city of Rothenberg could be said to have fallen into a light sleep.  The city was deemed unimportant.  Development stood still.  Luckily for us, this allowed the city to be faithful preserved in all its ancient beauty.

In the early 1930's Rothenberg became a Nazi stronghold, garnering 83% of the vote.  By 1938 all of Rothenberg's News had been expelled and its synagogue destroyed.

In March of 1945 the city underwent Allied bombardment, destroying some of the eastern part of the city.  Luckily, the most important part of the city's architectural heritage was preserved.

 After the war, the destroyed buildings were faithfully reconstructed.  Some of the reconstruction was financed by donations from Americans who felt guilty about destroying part of such an historic site.

An April 1945 artillery attack was avoided due to the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany's knowledge, from his mother who had visited the city before the war, of the great historical and cultural significance of the city.

Considered a prototype of a German Medieval City, the area is a magnet for tourists who like to walk its quaint narrow streets and gaze upon its many half -timbered buildings.  To sit and sip a local wine, eat a Bavarian pretzel and relax is a must.

Monday, June 18, 2018


Nuremberg was the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire.  The Imperial Diet, a negotiating body, and the Imperial Courts met in Nuremberg's castle.  The city was one of the most important cities of the Empire.

For the Nazi Third Reich, Nuremberg again took on political importance.

Because of its past importance to the Holy Roman Empire, and with a desire to a align itself with the glory of that empire, the Nazis decided to hold their 1927, 1929, 1933-1938 enormous propaganda rallies in Nuremberg.

These huge propaganda events, catering to emotions and not intellect, were held to espouse the ideas that were the underpinnings of the Nazi party, including Aryan superiority.

In 1935, the infamous Nuremberg Laws laws were passed here.  It was with these laws that, it became illegal for Jews to marry non Jews, and the German citizenship of all Jews and non- Aryans was revoked, a necessary precursor to the Holocaust which was to follow.

The famous Nuremberg War Crimes trials were held here and not in Berlin because

      1.  Due to the numerous Nazi rallies and the passing of legislation to strip Jews of their citizenship here, it was felt to be symbolic that the Nazis should also be held accountable for their war crimes in Nuremberg.

      2.  The courthouse was one of the few in Germany that had a large enough courtroom, was relatively intact, and has an adjoining jail to hold the accused.

 Military and political leaders, including Herman Goring and Rudolph Hess, were held accountable for their involvement with the Holocaust and other Nazi war crimes.

Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, and others, who would also have been tried, had already committed suicide before they could be brought to justice.  Others had fled to Argentina.

Twenty four individuals were tried at the initial tribunal.  Twelve were sentenced to death.  Three were sentenced to life in prison.  Two were acquitted of the charges against them.  Others were given lesser sentences.

Tribunals, prosecuting lesser individuals and holding these individuals culpable for crimes instead of the all encompassing state, were later held.

The Nuremberg tribunals are important, also, because they are the basis of today's International Criminal Court.

 The Nuremberg trials brought to the forefront very sobering examples of man's terrible inhumanity to man that should never be forgotten.

Sunday, June 17, 2018


Regensburg's largely preserved old town has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2006.

Although it was first settled in 5000 B.C., like countless other cities it can trace its "modern" roots to a Roman fortress.

Romanesque and Gothic architecture from the Middle Ages  created the old part of the city.  The old stone bridge constructed during the 1100's is a symbol of the city's wealth during this time in history.

House towers were constructed by the affluent families of the time.  The Golden Tower remains today as a fine example of the architecture of the time.

In 1273 the construction of the Regensburg Cathedral was begun.  Today it is a landmark and architectural gem.

In April of 1809, French troops led by Napoleon, retook the city of Regensburg.  During this battle, Napoleon suffered his first and only injury in all his campaigns.

During WWII several Nazi work camps were established around Regensburg.  Here prisoners of war did forced labor and lived in squalid conditions.  Over 700 died.

An aircraft facility was also located west of the city.  It was bombed by the Allies and destroyed in August of 1943.

Regensburg was slow to recover from the war.  This had a silver lining:  The old buildings of the town were not torn down in the name of redevelopment.  By the 1960's, when recovery did begin, preservation of these buildings was, thankfully, considered paramount.

Visit today and step back in time to Medieval Europe.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Salzburg and the Sound of Music

Salzburg is a city of churches and beautiful town squares.

From the 1300's until the early 1800's it was an autonomous city ruled by Bishop-Princes who controlled both the religious and secular parts of life.  They also built beautiful residences and countless churches.

However, in the early 1800's, as a result of a command by Napoleon, the autonomous city became part of Bavaria.

Mozart was born and lived here until his early death at the age of 35.

The popular Mozartkugel, a ball of chocolate with a marzipan center, was first made in Salzburg.  Even today they are still handmade here, although mass produced in other European cities.  You can't come to Salzburg without trying one.

Another sweet you must try is a unique version of meringue, served in the form of three mountain peaks.  We lunched in St. Peter's Restaurant and tried them after some wonderful schnitzel.  They were divine.

The Alps have their beginning in Salzburg.  On one of the hills, a large medieval defensive fortresses from the 11th century, one of the largest in Europe, stands guard over the city.

To walk the city is a fine way to discover its fine examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Modern architecture.

However, what most tourists, of which there are many, identify with the city is the 1965 movie The Sound of Music.

Set in Salzburg during the run up to WWII, it uses some of the existing sites in and around the city as background for the movie:  the cemetery of St. Peter's, the beautiful gardens across the Danube from the city, the historic Benedictine Abbey and the Salzburg Music Festival, to name a few.

However,it must be remembered that the movie, though based on fact, is not always accurate.

For example, Maria and Captain von Trapp were married in the late 1920's and not the late 1930's.  And, they did not walk over the Alps to Switzerland, hundreds of miles away.  The took the train to Italy and from there proceeded to the U.S.

A beloved movie almost world wide, the movie remains widely unknown, except by tour guides, in German speaking countries.  Made only twenty years after the end of the war, memories were fresh and the depiction of Nazis unappreciated.

It remains unknown to this day.  Ironic.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Wachau Valley, Durnstein and Melk Abbey

Today we sailed through the "Golden Wachau" Valley.  Terraced grape vines along its 25 mile stretch attest to the famous wine growing industry of the valley.  The picturesque villages hug the hills with ancient fortifications soaring above them.

One such village is that of Durnstein.  It became famous in 1192 when it's castle held the English king Richard I, the Lionhearted, who was captured on his way home from the Crusades and held for ransom.  The ransom was paid after a few months and Richard was released.

Today it is a popular tourist city.

It is rumored that Diana, Princess of Wales, would stay in the town's luxurious hotel and enjoy the fabulous scenery as she tried to avoid the paparazzi.

Further down the Danube is Melk Abbey, perched high above the town of Melk on the rocky hillside.

Leopold II gave the Benedictine monks one of his castles in 1089 to be used for a monastery.  One hundred years later a monastic school began.

With time, the monastary's library of manuscripts gained renown, as did the Abbey' production of hand inscribed copies of manuscripts.

Today's Abbey was constructed in the early 1700's in Baroque style.  The decoration lavish and awe inspiring.

Its library contains a large collection of Medieval manuscripts, including musical manuscripts.

Its school is still functioning, having a student body of almost 900 young men and women.

It is a piece of still living history.

Thursday, June 14, 2018


Vienna is a large capital city of what is now a small country.  One third of Austria's population lives in the Vienna metropolitan area.

But Vienna has a long and glorious history of being the capital of great empires, thus its size.

From 800-1806, it acted as a capital for the Holy Roman Empire and, in 1440 it became the center of the Hapsburg's dynasty.  In 1867 it continued as the capital of the newly created Austria- Hungarian Empire.  It would remain so until the collapse of the Empire in 1918.  In 1919 today's smaller Austria was born.

1938 saw the absorption of Austria by Nazi Germany.    Berlin became its capital.   65,000 Jews would be sent to their death during the course of the war.

It would not be an autonomous nation again until 1955 when the Soviet hold on the city ended.  Modern Austria is governed by the Social Democratic Party and has declared itself a neutral country.

With a strong economy, a geographic location that makes it a gateway to former Eastern Bloc countries, and ranked as one of Europe's most livable cities, Vienna is a tourist magnet.

The city is home to many international organizations and a member of the European Union.

During the centuries it developed deep  musical, cultural, educational, architectural and economic roots still visible today.  History is around literally every corner of the city.

In 1913, this melting pot of a city was home to Leon Trotsky, Joseph Stalin, Sigmund Freud,  Joseph Tito, and Adolph Hitler, men who would define the twentieth century.

The late 1800's saw the dismantling of the historic wall around the city and its replacement with a beautiful boulevard around the heart of the city.  Lined with governmental buildings and large homes, yet also full of relaxing and reviving green spaces, this area is a must to explore.

With repair, restoration and reconstruction of the damage of WWII complete, the palaces, churches, city squares, and cultural buildings of Vienna once again exert a pull on tourists, as they should.

Music ,theatre, opera, museums, cafes, cuisine:  Vienna has it all.  A must see city.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia as well as its largest city.  It is the cultural and educational center for the country.

Slovakia is blessed to border on both Austria and Hungary. This geographic placement making exporting easy,  and the country's business friendly policies and skilled workforce have helped to make Bratislava a car manufacturing and tech center.

The Romans introduced grape growing and wine making to the region and this industry continues to today.  However, since all the wine is consumed internally, none is available for export.  (These people can party.)

From 1536-1830 eleven kings and queens of Hungary were crowned in Bratislava at St. Martin's Cathedral in the city center.

After 1830, Bratislava began lose importance to Vienna and Budapest who then became the centers of social and cultural life.

At the end of WWI, with the breakup of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, what is now Slovakia became a part of the newly created Czechoslovakia.

The country came under Nazi domination during WWII and 15000 Jews were transported to concentration camps and ultimately died.

The Communist party seized Czechoslovakia in 1948 and it was part of the communist bloc until the the fall of Communism as the result of the Velvet Revolution of 1989.

In 1993 Bratislava  became the capital of the newly formed Slovak Republic when Czechoslovakia divided itself into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, sometimes referred to as the Velvet Divorce.

Today the economy is very strong with car manufacturing, technology and service jobs being the strongest three sectors.  Tourism is also a rapidly expanding sector.

This young but proud country and its beautiful capital city are poised to grow even more in the years ahead.  Well worth a visit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Buda and Pest

Until 1873 there was no Budapest.  There was the city of Buda and Obuda on one side of the Danube and the city of Pest on the other.  When they joined together Budapest was born. The capital and largest city in Hungary, it is also one of the largest cities in the European Union.

The city started out as a Celtic settlement, then became a Roman capital.  The first Hungarians arrived in the 9th century.  Later, beginning in 1541, it was ruled by the Ottomans for 140 years.  The Hapsburgs drove the Ottomans out in 1718 and established  the Kingdom of Hungary.  Still later, from 1867, it became the co-capital of the Austrian-Hungarian empire.  When the empire dissolved at the end of World War I, an independent Republic of Hungary came into being.  After World War II, The People's Republic of Hungary was part of the Soviet block until the fall of communism in 1991.

Although partially destroyed by Allied bombing raids in 1944, and the destruction of every bridge over the Danube by the Germans, Budapest has recreated itself as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

The architecture of the city reflects its long and varied history.  You can see everything from Roman ruins through modern skyscrapers, although the majority of building are kept low to preserve the historic nature of the city.  The multitude of architectural styles coexist well and give the city its unique sense of self.

There are many things to see but one thing you must make time to see is the Jewish temple, the mass graves of Holocaust victims located there, and the evocative Holocaust memorial.  This was what touched me the most of all the places we visited.

Hungarian cuisine is another reflection of the country's varied cultural history.
Influenced by European and Asiatic foods, the resulting dishes are very flavorful and unique with the use of paprika and sour cream holding pride of place.

Plan more than one day to explore and appreciate this wonderful city.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Five Ways I Saved Money in May

1.  Visiting a salvage grocery, or two.  At the first I spent $ 93.63 for 105 items.  At the second I bought 115 items for $ 102.07.  My cupboards are stocked.

2.  Making homemade bread for about $0.20 versus buying it at Aldi or the bread store.  I can also make English muffins, tortillas, pitas, nann and bagels.  I just need to motivate myself to get back in the habit.  This bread is a small step forward.  (  But I still was bad and went to the bread store and spent $  5.56 on  7 items.    I could have made them for under $2.  My excuse is the RV is small for baking bagels, English Muffins and such.  That's my story and I am sticking to it. )

3.  I got lucky again and found another stash of yarn.  It was $1.25 per skein but still a great bargain.  I have had a hard time recently finding any but it seems my drought is over for awhile.  Now I just need to find a place to put it all.  :)

4.  Washing out zip lock bags.  I do this regularly for any bags that didn't contain meat.    I can reuse a bag several times before it ends up in the garbage.  By doing this I only need to buy one box each of sandwich, quart and gallon bags per year.  Every little bit counts.  And, it helps Mother Earth.

5.  Gather up the fragments vegetarian chili.  I put in a partial jar of homemade salsa that had been in the fridge awhile, the seasoned broth from cooking some pinto beans for refried beans, a half a can of enchilada sauce that has been lurking in the freezer, a small amount of the refried beans mentioned above, one can of beans and one can of Rotel tomatoes.  I let it all cook down.  I made enough for chili, chili spaghetti and chili burritos.   About 50 cents per meal.

An Extra:  Being lucky enough to go to the Middlefield Cheese Co-Op and buy about 12 pounds of cheese at about $2.39/pound on average.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Compact

With the world focused on the environment and what can be done to help Mother Earth, I thought now would be a great time to talk about The Compact.

An informal loose association of people world wide, The Compact is an agreement to try to source items needed from the used market:  thrift stores, charity shops, garage sales, etc.  Normal consumer outlets for consumer goods are your last resort.

 By doing this, you can help stop perfectly good items from ending up in a landfill.  The Compact hopes to be at least part of the answer to rampant consumerism.

You can set up your own rules for any exceptions you want to have.  Mine are that I am free to purchase undergarments and gifts new.  There are no Compact police.  No one will be monitoring your compliance but you.

I joined The Compact five years ago.  The woman who inspired me to join has been living this Earth friendly way for over fifteen years.  I encourage you to give it a try at the level that feels comfortable to you.  The environment will thank you.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Exploring Prague

Built along the banks of the Vltava river, Prague is used to being a capital city.  It was home to the kings of Bohemia; the center of government for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV; the capital of Czechoslovakia; and now the capital of government of the Czech Republic.

Known as the city of spires, its beautiful and varied buildings, painted a delightful array of colors, reflect the varied architectural styles of its over one thousand year history.  And, the buildings are of a very human scale, being generally four to six stories tall, making it a very comfortable city.  Its cobblestone streets and stone mosaic sidewalks harken back to another age.

Full of ancient churches, great museums, historic bridges, a university that is the oldest in Central Europe, as well as a beautiful palace, it's no wonder tourist flock to visit the city, making it the fifth most popular destination in Europe.

Geared towards its tourists, there is always someone who speaks English;  restaurants abound; and things in general are affordable, unless you desbyire to shop for Dior, Cartier and such.  They are also available for those with deep pockets.

Prague should definitely be on your bucket list of places to visit.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Visiting Dresden

Dresden has a history that dates to the 1500's.  The beautiful city reflects the many centuries in its varied architecture.  And yet, most of the buildings are less than a century old.  Some are less than a decade, although they appear much older.

In 1945, near the end of WWII, the city was virtually destroyed by Allied bombing raids in February of that year.

Faced with rebuilding, the decision was made to restore the city to the way it looked in 1940.  Starting in the 1950's and still continuing today, the city is restoring itself to reflect its past beauty.

At noon everyday is a walking tour that highlights the progress to date.  Museums, churches, palaces and homes are highlighted for the participants to observe and reflect upon.

Like the Phoenix arising from the ashes, Dresden is meticulously recreating its past grandeur.

It's a wonderful place to also reflect upon the historic and beautiful structures and artistic endeavors forever lost to us due to man's inhumanity to man over the centuries.

May we eventually learn from our past mistakes.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Eating in Amsterdam and on the Train to Berlin

Jet Lag equals no energy to go to a restaurant.

Local Grocery equals a good option.

We needed a dinner and lunch for on the train the next day.

We bought these items for our gourmet picnics:

4 hard rolls
Gouda cheese with caraway seeds
Pretzels:  cheese stuffed and peanut stuffed
Sliced apples with grapes and pineapple
A large bottle of soda

Enough for both meals.  €18.22
€9.11 /meal

A sandwich alone would have cost us at least €4.99.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Buying and Eating: May 16-31

We started the month with $381.30.  A total of $212.59 was spent during the first half of the month.  That leaves 168.71 for the remainder of the month.  We have a cushion of $849.06 ($465.47 ytd) that we can go into if needed.

What We Ate:  grilled salmon Caesar salad, fresh strawberries, asparagus;  grilled ham from the freezer, leftover sides, bread pudding; shrimp Caesar salad with toasted English muffins;  cheesy ham and potatoes from the freezer, mixed vegetables, fruit and rice salad from the freezer, banana muffins; turkey divan from the freezer, sweet and sour red cabbage, garlic and onion smashed potatoes, leftover fruit salad;  grilled Polish sausage, roasted cauliflower, rye cheesy bread;  Meatloaf, baked potato, corn;  leftovers; easy small pita and English muffin sausage pizzas with popcorn; Cincinnati Four Way Chili and bagels; homemade cream of asparagus soup and sandwiches; steak, creamy spinach rice, applesauce; smoked and BBQ ribs, coleslaw, curry potatoes, strawberry shortcake; leftovers then vacation

What We Bought:

Aldi:  strawberries (2), asparagus.   $4.27

Middlefield Cheese Co-Op:  12 pounds of cheese.  $28.63

Middlefield Salvage:  tomato juice, 46 oz., Pam (4), gal. White vinegar, sugar cone ice cream bowls, sauerkraut, 3 bean salad, corn, beignet mix, jerky, barley, Mac and cheese (6), Pecan Sandies, crispy dried onions, pie crust mix (6), cream of chicken soup (3), Pepperidge Farm sourdough bread, cereal (4), crackers (8), salad dressings (4), oatmeal, beef bouillon, digestive cookies (2), coffee (6), low carb tortillas (4), breakfast bars (6), gal.  corn oil, broth (2), shelf stable soy milk (2), candy bars (5), chocolate mint baking morsels (2), tuna (3), natural peanut butter (2), canned white beans (4), lasagna noodles, diced tomatoes .    $67.44

CVS:  Maxwell House instant coffee (9)  $21.91

Price Rite:  canned beans (3), kielbasa (3), cheese (4)   $13.13

Total for Groceries:  $135.38

Eating Out:

Breakfast with Dad at the Geneva Lodge:  $21.22

Lunch with Pat:  $21.80

Total for Eating Out:  $43.02

GRAND TOTAL:  $178.40

We went into this year's cushion by $9.69 this month.  The first time this year that we have gone over the monthly allocation.  Not bad.

Our YTD cushion now stands at $ 455.78 and our total cushion is $839.37.