Five years of blogging

I just passed my five year mark as a blogger. This was my first post in March of 2012:

My New Mantra

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
The Matterhorn
I stole this photo from my brother who lives in Switzerland and happened to be passing this particular mountain among others on some weekend trip of his.
He is returning to the US soon and will also be an Alien….
It kind of represents my new mantra.  There are probably some trails up there for people to follow.
I spent two lovely years in Switzerland myself.  Fun times.  More on that later.
 
Since then I published my memoir on growing up internationally. I wrote over 300 posts and had about 50,000 visitors. Plus I blogged at the Baltimore Post Examiner for several years with more posts and visitors. I wrote a cookbook. I traveled to Switzerland, Italy, Nova Scotia, Florida, California, Colorado, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, New York and Minnesota. I buried my son’s father. I loved and lost. I quit my job. I packed up my things and moved to a new city. I found a new job and a great apartment. And now I am planning a trip to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine to go to Tierra del Fuego. 
I don’t know that I am leaving a trail but I am following my own path.
I changed my blog to be “expat alien, recovering expat on the prairie”. I feel more local now. I recently read “the Art of Stillness” by Pico Iyer. Going nowhere can be a journey in itself. 

Five Hundredth Anniversary of Martin Luther Protest

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Luther’s table

Five hundred years ago, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Thesis 95 to the door of the Catholic Church in Wittenberg. This document encouraged people to question the teachings of the Catholic church and started the Protestant Reformation. In celebration of the 500th anniversary of this event, there will be exhibits and activities across Germany and the USA. One exhibit is currently showing at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Martin Luther was born in Germany in 1483 and died in 1546. He originally studied law but decided to become a monk in 1505. In 1507 he became a priest and in 1510 he walked 1,000 miles to Rome. By 1512 he earned a doctorate in theology and became a professor at Wittenberg. In 1517 he preached against the Catholic Church’s sale of indulgences and nailed his Thesis 95 to the church doors.  This declaration spread quickly across Europe. He was charged with heresy and excommunicated in 1521. That year he came under the protection of Frederick the Wise and translated the New Testament into German. On December 25, 1525, he married an ex-nun and they had six children.

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The exhibit at the Minneapolis Art Institute is showing through January 15, 2017. It takes you through this life and the times he lived in. There are a couple of beautiful prints by Albrecht Durer, paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder of Luther and his wife, the last pulpit Luther preached from, original manuscripts, a table Luther worked on, and much more.

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Among the artifacts is an indulgence chest where gold and other precious items were stored. Any of the faithful could purchase an indulgence in order to reduce the punishment for their sins and shorten the time they had to spend in Purgatory. The way it worked was rich men would lend money to a Cardinal or somebody who oversaw several dioceses. Then the Pope would authorize that person to sell indulgences. The priests would preach several times a day and grant indulgences. With the money collected from the faithful, the debt would be paid off. This is how St Peter’s in Rome was funded.

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One of the highlights for me was the Gotha Panel Altar from Heinrigh Fullmaurer’s workshop. It has 14 folding panels with a fixed central piece. It is basically a big illustrated bible.

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Another item I found interesting was a hood worn by plague doctors. These were not real doctors but people who would go in and help the sick and dying as best they could. Most of these doctors died as well. Martin Luther had two brothers who died of the plague as it spread through Wittenberg in 1527. The hood covered the whole head and shoulders, had round glass eye holes and a pointed beak. The beak was stuffed with herbs and oils that helped the doctor tolerate the stench. It was a very eerie looking thing.

More information on the exhibits and on Martin Luther can be found here.

 

Blogging and Chocolate Cake

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“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

I have been blogging for two years now. Seems like just yesterday. I started my blog to promote my book, Expat Alien. I didn’t know what I was doing or if anybody would even read it. What I found was a whole new world. There are millions of bloggers out there. I had no idea. People blog about everything. Some blog a lot, some not so much.

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To mark the occasion I though I might find one of Julia Child’s cake recipes. It seemed appropriate since she was an expat. However her recipes tend to be three and four pages long and that is a lot of work. So here is my favorite chocolate cake recipe that I have made a million times. It comes from the Joy of Cooking 1975 edition.

And keep on blogging!

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Cocoa Devil’s Food Cake

Two 9-inch round pans

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees F

Combine, beat until well blended, and set aside:

1 cup sugar

½ cup cocoa

½ cup buttermilk or yogurt

Beat until soft

½ cup butter

Add gradually and cream until light:

1 cup sifted sugar

Beat in, one at a time:

2 eggs

Beat in cocoa mixture.

Sift before measuring:

2 cups cake flour

Resift with:

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

Add the flour in 3 parts to the butter mixture, alternately with:

½ cup buttermilk or yogurt

1 tsp vanilla

Beat batter after each addition just until smooth.

Grease the pans and cook for 35 minutes in a 375 degree F oven.

When cooled, spread the cake with your favorite icing.

 

 

70 years together

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I am re-posting this from my other blog – Eclectic Global Nomad.

My parents were married at 2:00 in the afternoon.  My father was on medical leave from the US Navy after having his appendix out.  The year was 1943.

My mother remembers driving with her father to the church. They lived in a small town in Iowa.  As they drove through downtown my mother noticed the bank clock said 1:55.  When she and her new husband drove back the same route to her house for a small reception, she again noticed the clock.  It now said 2:15.  The minister had married them under the wrong name.  Nobody mentioned it.

My father’s father ran the family farm so he had petrol coupons.  He filled the car with gas and gave them coupons so they could go to Kansas City for a two day honeymoon before my father returned to his post at Lakehurst, New Jersey.  He was training to fly blimps.  My mother was teaching school and had to finish out the year before joining him.

They were separated again when my father went to fly blimps off the coast of Brazil searching for German submarines.  He remembers Christmas Day, 1944.  He and his buddies drove through the Brazilian countryside on their way to find a beach to play volleyball.  It was the first time he had ever seen that kind of poverty.  He noticed the crops in the fields and decided that very day he could help people by teaching agriculture.

He had planned to be a vocational agriculture instructor when he returned to civilian life but this gave it a whole new dimension.  He wanted to work overseas.  His mother had always told him he could do what ever he wanted if he set his mind to it.

Continue Reading

 

Food Friday: Oven Swiss Steak

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According to Wikipedia:

Swiss steak is a method of preparing meat, usually beef, by means of rolling or pounding, and then braising  in a cooking pot of stewed tomatoes, either on a stove (cooker) or in an oven.   

No wonder there are hundreds of recipes for Swiss Steak.  This recipe comes from my Mother and I have enjoyed it for many years.

 

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Oven Swiss Steak

2 lbs round steak, in serving pieces

1 large onion, sliced

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Brown steak dredged in flour in hot fat with onions, salt and pepper.

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Mix:

1 pt tinned tomatoes (1 15.5 oz can)

1 cup water

2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp dry mustard

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp lemon juice

dash pepper and paprika

Pour over meat in a skillet (covered)

Bake in 350 degrees F oven for 2 hours (or more)

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On another note…  It is my blog’s one year anniversary!!  Yay!!

Anniversary

Last week was my parents’ 69th wedding anniversary.  My brother was there to help them celebrate and my sister in law suggested we start planning for the 70th.  I suggested a round the world trip.  Both my parents are 92.  My father tells me that he had been to 90 countries by the time he was 90 and still has a few on his list.  I know the wine country in South Africa is one place he wants to go.  That would be fun!

My parents met when they shared a ride back to college after Christmas break.  My mother was not feeling well and my father thought she was probably hung over.  If you knew my mother you would understand how absurd that sounds.  He soon learned this was not the case.  My mother didn’t drink.  My father was dating a woman named Lois at the time and my mother knew it.  She was not so very impressed with him.

However, my father pursued her and they became friends and enjoyed spending time together and did spend time together.  After he joined the Navy and saw his friends start to get married, he thought it might be a good idea to marry.  In 1943 he got appendicitis and had a few days of R&R.  For some reason he thought that would be a good time to ask Virginia to marry him.  He sent her a telegram asking her how quickly she could get a syphilis test.  In those days you had to have one in order to get married.  Luckily he followed up with a phone call and said he thought it might be a good idea if they got married.  Amazingly she agreed.  What a wacky woman!  She had no idea what was in store for her.

Nine years later my father went to work for the US Technical Cooperation Agency and he was assigned to the Burmese State Teacher Training College where he worked with students in agriculture.  My parents and my two brothers who were 4 and 6 years old started their great expat adventure in 1952.  Their friends and relatives thought they had lost their minds.  This was before jet airplanes, email or polio vaccines.  From Burma they went to Mexico, Colombia, Nigeria, and the Netherlands.  They did not repatriate until 1985.

Sixty nine years later they are still speaking to each other.  And all due to a ride they hitched back to school.