Holy cow – do I have to catch all of you up on the happenings of the last 6 month – ugh…yeah it has been 6 months since I sat down and wrote my last blog entry. There is just WAY too much going on here, to have a minute to cook something new and then sit down and write about it. But that’s a good thing, that’s exactly what Mike and I wanted, to get out of the same old same old and I tell you we haven’t had one dull moment since we moved to Northport, 10 months ago – yep 10 months, seems like we moved yesterday – well it does for me.
Ok let me catch you up on everything in chronological order:
March: The two big ticket items for March were building a deck around the house and my trip to Germany to celebrate my mums 75th birthday.
Here the before and after pictures of the deck:
Here is my mum (to the left) with her neighbor and friend Ilse.
Covid had still been in “full swing” and there were so many rules to follow to get into Germany but I am glad I went even though my parents thought it was too dangerous for me to fly and catch Covid, I wasn’t worried at all, by now we all know that Covid is just another form of the flu and you don’t die from it under “normal circumstances”. I was way more worried that I could give it to my parents in case I would catch it on the flight. Thankfully we all stayed healthy, that’s the last thing a kid wants to do to their parents and give them Covid.
I had been to Germany in May 2021 to celebrate mother’s and father’s day with my parents and this year was my mum’s 75th birthday in March. A couple years ago, prior to Covid, we had planned for my parents to come back to the US and then fly together to Mexico to celebrate my mums 75th birthday but with Covid that unfortunately didn’t happen, so at least I wanted to be with my mum for her 75th birthday. You know how parents are, they always tell you it’s not a big deal, but I think the older your parents get the bigger of a deal their birthday gets. The sad truth is that you never know how many birthday’s any one of us has left, especially our parents.
It was good that I did go but I wish I could have stayed longer; once I left Germany my dad’s health suddenly took a turn to the worse and he got really sick with several issues: he needed a pacemaker, his diabetes was through the roof and then he got diverticulitis on top of it and had to have an emergency visit to the hospital. My poor mum had to deal with all of that by herself but thankfully my dad is doing much better now.
My dad and I went to the Dr. while I was in Germany to check if he has early Alzheimer’s or Dementia since he is so very forgetful and we started the process of visiting a bunch of different doctors. Once the “general practitioner” figured out that his Diabetes was through the roof, we went to a Diabetes Dr. who immediately made him change his diet and gave him Diabetes medication. After 2 weeks of medication and eating healthy (and me already being back in Germany), my dad collapses in the middle of the street in front of a coffee and ice cream shop but he got back up pretty quickly. Then my mum and dad drove home and my dad collapses again in the chair and didn’t really regained his conscience all that quickly and my mum was really alarmed. So my mum called 911 and they took my dad to the hospital (and that only because my mum pretty much forced them) and the doctors figured out that his heart is not beating regularly and so he had to get a pacemaker.
By now my dad had already lost quite a bit of weight and after that incident, my dad wasn’t feeling well, he didn’t had any appetite and was constantly cold, so back to the Dr. and the Dr. figured out he has an infection in the colon and the blood test results showed that the infection is through the roof and the colon is about to burst, so back to the hospital for an emergency IV, by now by dad was super weak and in danger to die of sepsis if the colon would blow. And what does my mum do? Doesn’t even tell me about it. I usually call on the weekend and now I called the Tuesday after the weekend and my mum tells me my dad is in the hospital with Diverticulitis. I tell you, it’s extremely hard to be so far away from your parents when you know they need you and you can’t just get into the car and drive there. But thankfully now all of this is over and while my dad lost a good 40 pounds, he is much better now, and losing all that weight might be a really good thing for his heart, high blood pressure and the diabetes.
So you can imagine that during my stay in Germany we didn’t do all that much since my dad already didn’t feel all that good when I was there. It’s easy to write lethargic behavior off with being old, so you have to force your parents and maybe your spouse or yourself to not just accept that you “get older’ and slower and forgetful and have pains here and there – go to the doctor until you find one who listens and finds the true cause for your issues.
But enough of speaking of sicknesses – there are so many GREAT things that happened and I am so thankful that now we don’t have to worry too much about my dad’s heart, brain deficiencies (like Alzheimer’s or Dementia) or colon (cancer) for that matter. It was mainly the Diabetes and not getting sufficient oxygen to his brain that made him so forgetful. Now his brain cells have to renew…
You will see a couple of pictures of the fun stuff we did above….walking in the fields around Moenchengladbach, eating the most amazing ice cream in an Italian Ice cream shop – wish we had those here in the USA. We also went to this amazing artisan market in a German Castle called Schloss Paffenburg. And of course a picture gallery of all the great food my mum made me, can’t be missed.
I think I already wrote about the “Bergische Kaffeetafel” which was another culinary stop we had to make in Schloss Burg where they have the best Bergische Kaffeetafel (it used to be characterized as a “feast” for big family gatherings, now its commercial and you can get a certain “set of dishes” (like pumpernickel, fresh cheese and deli meet, rice pudding, raisin bread. different type of melba toast, jam sour cream – we call it Quark) in café’s around the “Bergisches Land” which is a region between Düsseldorf and Cologne. And as always time went by way too fast and in March when I left, I had no idea yet that I would be back in September for my dad’s birthday – so there is the spoiler alert, I just booked my Germany trip last week and are very excited to go a second time this year and spend time with my mum and dad.
This is the famous “Droeppelminna” (dripping “minna”) which is a coffee pot that back in the day when there were no coffee filter, dripped (instead of “flowing or pouring”) your coffee into your cup because the coffee grounds were clogging up the pipe and so coffee was “dripping”. The “Droeppelminna” was usually only seen in very wealthy households and it is said that it resembles the body of a woman (mainly a maid back in the days where the wealthy had maids).
April: April came around and Mike’s friend Jo, who Mike hadn’t seen for over 20 years, visited us for a couple of days. Mike showed Joe around and of course a night at the oldest bar in Washington – Kuks in Northport – is a must.
In April the front of the barn got completed with a new barn door that Mike build and some beautiful cedar siding, adorned with my own Tack room sign. Now we just need to go around the barn and put on more siding and make it even more amazing.
And finally in April the Canadian boarder opened up to US travelers. The Covid rules were loosened up a little bit and vaccinated US Citizen can travel to Canada when registered in advance through the “Arrive Canada” app. Mike and I had already taken a trip to the neighboring Canadian towns of Rossland, Trail and Castlegar at the beginning of April to check out the area and were very pleasantly surprised with Rossland, which is a very neat small ski resort town, just 30 minutes from us with restaurants, shops and an amazing Italian grocery store. At the end of April, Mike and I went for a short weekend trip to Nelson in Canada which was awesome. We had only heard about this “phantasy” land of amazing shopping and food options in close reach but unattainable during Covid times because the border was closed for leisure travel or it took ungodly amounts of time to get all the tests and papers done to be able to cross the border.
All my dreams of Sushi, Poke Bowls, “real chocolate”, European shopping experiences, facials, cocktails and fun entertainment have came to life from one day to the other.
Nelson is a beautiful “hip European flair” town with lots of restaurant, boutique shops, breweries, life music and a beautiful lake. We stayed in the historic Hume hotel, had Thai food, listened to a Metallica cover band,
and took a ferry to a small little town where we found the Harry Potter Broom shop (they indeed made the brooms for the Harry Potter movie)
Unfortunately though while we were gone, our 13 year old cat Jack snuck out of the door one night and did not to come back. We had Jack since he was a baby and I am grateful we had him for 13 years, that is MUCH longer than any other cat I ever had, but still it’s really hard to lose your furry kid, especially when it has been with you for over 13 years.
As much as I am happy that he had a great life, I don’t understand why it had to come to an end when I wasn’t around. This is the 4th animal that died while I was on vacation, I am wondering if the universe is trying to send me a sign that I am not supposed to leave them and go on vacation?
Jack should have had his own blog, its actually not fair that he only gets a couple paragraphs in this blog entry. Jack was amazing, he was an outdoor cat and the ONLY one who survived all the other cats that we had, by dodging all the wild life that we had while living in Redmond. He dodged bears, bob cats, owls, hawks, you name it, he always made it home safe, just not out here in Northport.
Everybody knew Jack in the Redmond neighborhood, because when I would walk Luna and Murphy around the block at lunch, Jack would always come with us – no leash – just trotting next to the dogs having a good old time. I constantly got stopped while walking and people were asking me if that was my cat and how unusual it was that a cat would go “on a walk”. Mike didn’t want Jack to go on a walk, since it could have been dangerous for him if we encountered other dogs or cars, but Jack was determined to go, I locked him up so many times and most of the time he found a way out of the house and caught up to us, making sure he gets his daily walk in with us.
He also was a great hunter – the neighbors loved Jack, he would keep the mole and mouse population to a minimum. If Jack would have died in Redmond and we would have had a funeral, I am certain the entire neighborhood would have showed up, he was the “neighborhood cat”, hanging out in people yards and on their front porches, letting them pet him and keeping the moles under control. He stood up to Kody, Sky, Luna and Murphy (our dogs), this cat had “balls” (even though he didn’t ;-)).
I looked for Jack for weeks here in our new neighborhood, but no luck. The first time he went missing right after we moved in, in October, I found him a couple days later, just minutes down the road and he heard me calling his name and came running but no luck though this time. I didn’t shed a tear for Jack for weeks, because I had hope he would come back or I would find him and I couldn’t deal with the fact that he would be gone forever, the cat who would come running when I clapped and rattled the “Temptations can” but now that I write this the tears are flowing, its final, he is gone! “Jack the Ripper” as my mum called him, is gone. My hope is that he knew it was his time and he found a nice tree where he took his final nap.
Mike was also pretty devastated about Jack’s disappearance. Mike doesn’t really like cats all that much (he disliked Xena quite a bit) but he loved Jack, he always made sure Jack was in the house and fed him and played with him, When Jack got lost here the first time and I found him after 2 days, we all shed tears, including Mike.
Mike actually got Jack for me on Christmas day 13 years ago. We got in a little bit of a tiff and Mike took off and showed up with a cat later in the afternoon. Jack was this tiny little thing in his jacket that I couldn’t see and he handed him to me – Mike was in the dog house that Christmas day and he knew that I couldn’t stay mad at him once I had this little fur ball in my hands. I first tried to resist and gave him back and when I was holding him again, I said to Mike that this time he got away with a cat but next time his “make up gift” better would be a horse….we have told this story many times and so it just fits to end my Jack story with his beginning.
Jack – I wish you lots of kitty crack in heaven and lots of mice, birds, moles and rabbits, all the little critters that you loved to bring me as gifts over the years, some I could save and many had to succumb to “Jack the Ripper”. We are missing you greatly! Make sure you meet up with Xena, Sky, Kody and Zeek and you 5 have a blast hanging out together .
May: Well, as life has it, it goes on and I have “other” furry children that need to be taken care of and Stan by now felt pretty lonely being all by himself since end of January. We were told that he was used to being alone, but Mike and I didn’t buy it, he seemed depressed laying in the corner of his corral and starting to eat the fence railing – he needed a friend!
We were looking for a companion for him now for quite a while and yikes, was it hard to come by a donkey or miniature pony. But as luck had it, a friend of ours knew someone who had a mare that needed a new home and we needed a second horse – one I could ride.
When I got Stan, I was told that a vet had seen Stan and guessed his age to be 20 since there were no papers for Stan. Once I had my own vet out, she told us that Stan is more around 30 – the age where horses usually die and additionally he has arthritis and shouldn’t be ridden. Now that was a complete blow. Here I am, having already completely bonded with Stan and now I was told that most likely he will be dying here soon and I also can’t ride him. But then came Penny into our life. What can I say, the moment Stan saw Penny, he was in love. Penny entered the corral and Stan has not left her out of his sight since then. He is actually a little bit too obsessive and goes completely nuts when I separate them, so now everything we do has to be in tandem so that Stan can be with Penny. He hasn’t been curled up in a corner or looked bored since. Maybe we even bought him a couple more years to live, he is very spunky these days!
Once back from Nelson, we had another visitor and our friend Ed came and spent a full week with us and helped Mike to fence in a HUGE pasture for Stan and Penny.
Last but not least, the construction of my home office aka “the cabin” has taken on quite a bit of form by May.
Another small road trip to Seattle happened at the end of may to celebrate my friend Sam’s birthday and to say good bye to the house that Sam lived in for over 20 years, right around the corner from our old house in Redmond.
After this quick weekend trip to Seattle I went back home and Mike’s grandparents Dee and David visited us. We celebrated Dee’s 80’s birthday a couple days prior to her actual birthday and we had a blast baking a coconut cream pie.
June: The first June weekend Sam came to visit us in Northport and to redeem her birthday gift, which was a weekend in Nelson/CA. After Mike and I had spent a weekend in Nelson in May and had such a blast there, we thought it would make for a great birthday gift for Sam. Nelson has everything a girls heart can desire, local breweries, a French Chacuterie and Bakery, the historic Hume Hotel, a little bit nightlife at Finleys hotsprings down the road (we haven’t tried those yet), a Farmers market, and much much more.
Sam and I were so happy we could eat Indian food and got the most amazing facial in the Spa in the Hume Hotel and tried our luck playing Bingo and Poker in the Irish pub. Once back home, of course we also had to to have a little bit of play time with Stan and Penny.
Then it was time for me to fly to California for a business trip and to meet my colleagues the first time since the start of Covid, in person. We combined business with pleasure, had a facial and ate delicious food like these amazing crepes and my favorite sushi!
Once back from California, we had our first neighborhood BBQ. We lived 15 years in Redmond and attended 2 neighborhood events, and here we are our first summer in Northport and already at our first neighborhood BBQ.
Its really amazing how much the community is here for each other and how many people we have met in the past 10 months, WAY more than in Redmond, it’s a constant coming and going and stopping by at the neighbors. We even have a dairy very close by where the owner makes fresh cheeses and yoghurt.
And then the unavoidable had to happen, I sit in my office during a conference call and I hear some noises upstairs and my door gets closed, kind of normal when Mike comes upstairs and wants to make sure I don’t get disturbed. For some reason I had a feeling something was happening behind my back and sure shit – there she was – a tiny little scared fur bundle – meet Vita (from Collvita or Collville where Mike got her at the local feed store – The Flour Mill)! We have a new baby kitten and I think Jack would approve – she is a spitting image of my beloved Xena.
As always the first 2 weeks are tough to get into the new rhythm with a baby kitten. Of course you can’t leave the little frightened kitten alone at night, so she sleeps with us and every 4 hours we have to get up and carry her to her litter box and then bring her back to bed and making sure we are not rolling over on her. Murphy and Luna weren’t really sure in the beginning, they hadn’t seen such a tiny creature living in the house before, but Vita embraced the two dogs with full force, always nuzzling them and rubbing her tail in their faces and now Murphy is fine with here, where Luna still would like to eat her – Luna just can’t help herself, she chased Jack until his last day….
Then it was Mike’s turn to take a quick trip to Seattle to celebrate Vanessa’s graduation as an EEG technician (she reads brain waves) – another proud father moment for Mike.
To round up June, summer is now in full swing and the garden is planted, weather is hot and we visited the local racetrack in Northport. Also the cabin is making great progress and you can see below that the cabin is taking on a beautiful shape and exterior.
July: 4th of July rolled around and Bobby and Allison came to visit the crazy Out of Bounds Ranch and we enjoyed a nice 4th of July firework at the Northport boat launch. Allison and Bobby stayed an entire week and so we had plenty of time to explore the surroundings, go fishing, fixed up these beautiful rocking chairs for the porch, went thrifting, had a great time playing Melt Down at the Casino and the obligatory drive to Canada to see Rossland to have lunch at the flying Steamshovel.
We closed out the vacation with a fun photo shoot with Penny and Stan and the dogs also got a little photo shoot of their own.
Then it was time to say good bye to Bobby and Allison and to welcome Christy. Christy stayed for a weekend before flying back to Germany to stay with her fiancé Wolfgang over the summer. We spent a nice day at the beach and showed Christy the surroundings including a quick trip to Rossland for lunch as well as homemade ice cream at the local chocolate and ice cream store and finished the visti off with a dinner at the Rivertown in Northport.
This year the hay cutting season got a little bit late start since this region got quite a bit of spring rain but when you start seeing a lot of fields with hay bales, you know winter is coming and its time to stockpile hay for the horses.
The garden is coming along great and pretty soon it will be time to can all these delicious tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers and harvesting, corn and watermelon for the first time! I had no idea one could fret about corn as much as I did, thinking it had a disease or wouldn’t form corn ears. Lets say I learned a lot about growing corn and corn diseases, but thankfully my corn is doing fine, got tassels, silk and corn ears. Now we just have to wait and see how it will taste.
August: Mike flew to Alaska for a week to go fishing with his buddy Ryan and Tim and brought back 70 pounds of fish. The freezer now is stocked and Mike has already shared his bounty with the neighbors and we had a couple of fish BBQ’s which were amazing. So far I have eaten King Salmon, Ling Cod, Rock fish and Halibut and they all were outstanding. Maybe one of these days in the upcoming looming winter I get to cook some Ling Cod Vietnamese style in a clay pot.
And just when Mike came back from Alaska, I had another business trip but this time to Seattle. Its very sad for me to see how run down Seattle has become. I stayed in a hotel downtown and had to move rooms because the homeless druggies were screaming in front of my window all night. Downtown is a huge zest pool, very sad to see how the city council has ruined this once beautiful city. On the positive side though, I got to see my friend Allison and my colleague Megan again and we also were introduced to some amazing Korean BBQ!
Back from Seattle, my friend Sam came by to spend a weekend on the Out of Bounds ranch and to learn how to can apricots. Sam picked over 25 pounds of apricots which we canned into 44 jars. This is the recipe we used. Its a low sugar jam recipe but I would say it tastes more like “apricot butter”, so a little bit tart, which I love. If you like it sweet, you have to double up the sugar. I already ate a huge jar of it in the below fashion: butter a thick slice of Brioche Bread, slather the jam on it and then top it with sour cream You have to eat it with a fork and a knife, its absolutely delicious.
But of course its not a girls weekend, if there isn’t a facial involved, so we did a quick trip to our Canadian neighbors in Trail, had Persian food, got a massage and a facial, and it was heavenly.
Then we topped off the evening with an outdoor concert of Nashville musician Michelle Rivers and our neighbor Jordan at his house here on the upper Marble Flats and it was amazing.
Like I mentioned before, we have so much more social life going on in this neighborhood in 10 months, than we had 15 years in Redmond and we love it.
And if all of this isn’t enough for August, Mike and Vanessa went on a trip of a lifetime and went swimming with the Whales in Tahiti. This is the video Mike just sent through, hot of the press a video of some “whaling” that Mike and Vanessa recorded – turn up the volume.
If you made it all the way to the end – congratulations – you are all caught up and hopefully it won’t take another 10 months for me to share another recipe with you.
Now to the recipe. So why am I posting this recipe right now? Well my lovely neighbors gave me a huge bag of cherries and it is cherry season, so I thought I make this quick and easy fruity “cakeish” Streusel to use up the cherries and return the favor by sharing this Kirschstreusel with the neighbors. This Streusel cake is more like a coffee cake but not so dry and you can make it with any fruit, I bet peaches or blueberries would also be good for this type of cake.
Kirschstreusel – makes 12 pieces
- 3 eggs
- 100 gram soft unsalted butter
- 120 gram sugar
- 250 ml milk
- 400 gram flour
- 1,5 teaspoons baking powder (mixed into the flour)
- 500 gram cherries pitted
For the streusel (crumble) you need:
- 100 gram soft butter
- 120 gram sugar
- 200 gram flour
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a small baking sheet with parchment paper and butter it.
- Mix eggs, butter and sugar until fluffy. Then add the milk carefully, just a couple quick stirs.
- Add the flour (that has been mixed with the baking powder) and incorporate it – just a quick mix, no overbeating.
- Now spread the batter onto the baking sheet and top with the cherries (press the cherries a little bit into the batter)
- Mix the streusel ingredients until the form pea size crumbles. I usually first use the mixer and then I mix it a little bit by hand so that I get the right size for the crumbles, you want some a little bigger and not all uniform.
- Spread the streusel/crumbles over the cherry/cake batter.
- Bake at 400 degrees in the middle position for 35-40 minutes. Let cool out.
Enjoy pure or with fresh whipped cream. I thought the Kirschstreusel actually tasted better the next day (I let it set overnight in the fridge and it made the cake more moist).