Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Farewell 2014 ... Hello 2015

I wish all of you and yours all the 
joy and happiness
 your hearts desire in 2015.

Hooray for the start of new year ~
Another chance for all things 
to become right!

Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

At the market

At the farmer's market the other day ... one of the vendors was selling these ...

Wished I'd gotten a bunch for the house ...
next time.

Is there a favorite item at the market you like getting for your home?

Monday, December 29, 2014

most influential person ... thought-provoking

I found this on a dear friend's Pinterest page today ,,, I found it incredibly moving.
No matter your faith ~ or none at all ~ this could be part of anyone's life ...
and it isn't limited to only women of the world ... 
many men are belong as well ...

I realize how blessed I have been by so many people whose aid or help 
I took for granted ... how small of me ... and how great of them.
Doesn't matter your faith ... looking back, many of those who helped me
were of faiths vastly different from my own. 

Wishing all of you a Happy 2015!

Cat-sitting Harley

I'm kitty-sitting Harley again while his pet human is in Berlin with family for the weekend ...

He has grown a lot in the last few months ... 
Harley keeps wrapping and weaving himself around my legs ...

Love having a cat in the house again ... even though he keeps trying to run out the door every time it is open ...


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Finished my other major organizing project -- Hurray!!

 Taking advantage of DH's deployment to get some projects done that are inconvenient to do while he is around ... so much easier to be able to pull apart a room or and and leave everything out for a day or two (or four ... snicker) while sorting, purging and re-arranging into a more user-friendly layout.

This is the after photographs of my latest project ... our pantry 
(still have to finish the bottle shelf) ...

                                         This is what I started with ... ick!

With a new year starting soon ~ is there a project you want to start on?    

Last year's Christmas gift from my son

Don't think I ever shared one of the great gifts my son gave me last Christmas ... 
Tried hanging it on the door ... 
but the adhesive hook we put on the door keeps pulling free and crashing to the floor ...

Since I don't want this damaged or destroyed ..we display it in our entryway ...
Isn't it terrific??  
I just love it!!
I am so lucky to have such a wonderful son!!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fantastic, Delish, Wonderful Chicken Pot Pie

I've been experimenting a lot  in the kitchen ... trying out new recipes.
DH LOVED this one ... went back and had seconds ... and thirds!!
Will make a few changes the next time ... but for the most part, it was great!

4 Tablespoons butter
3 stalks celery, finely chopped (I used 4 ... we like it really veggie)
3 medium carrots, finely chopped (I don't peel them though you can)
1 cup finely chopped onions
1/2-cup flour (can use cornstarch or sauce thickener if you prefer)
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups chopped cooked chicken (I used leftover rotisserie chicken)
1/2-cup frozen peas, thawed (think I used a full cup worth)
1 teaspoon thyme (will make it scant next time, a bit too much this time)
1 teaspoon salt (will omit this next time ... it was a bit too salty for us)
1/2-teaspoon pepper
biscuits for topping (original recipe uses a pie crust ... these were on hand)

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.  Heat butter in a large skillet over med-high heat.  Add carrots, celery, onion and cook, stirring often until tender (about 8 minutes).  Add flour, stir until smooth (since I used a sauce thickener, I waited to add toward the end).  Add chicken broth and granules, bring to a boil, stirring constantly.   Reduce heat and stir in cream.  (This is where I added the sauce thickener) Cook stirring often until thickened.  Add chicken, thawed peas and seasonings.

Pour mixture into a 9x13-inch pan coated with cooking spray (original recipe suggested using a deep-dish pie pan).  Top with either the biscuits (I cut them in half, makes serving it easier) or the pie crust. 

Bake 30 minutes or until topping is lightly browned and filling is bubbling.  

Cool 10 minutes or so before eating ... we couldn't wait that long!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Snowy days ..

Recent weather ...

Our table and terrace ...

                              Enjoy!   Holly

Maybe this should be our tree ...   

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Success! Empty Spaces!

Look!  Open space!
Hooray!  Have got the armoire and the side boy purged out and re-arranged.  Have released so many things from our home ... and I have to wonder why I acquired many of them.  Feels great to have reduced a wee bit of my clutter ...
 it's almost a physical feeling of lightness ...

Now I want to find other things I can release from our lives ... and our home ...


 Check out all the open space!  Now to keep from re-filling it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cleaning and organizing

DH is deployed right now ... 
so I've been working on some 
long-overdue cleaning and 
purging.  Miss him bunches ... 
but when he's home, I can't empty
 cupboards and bins and leave 
the contents scattered about
while going through the piles 
to keep the items we want and donate or toss what no longer fits in our lives.

Over the last week, I've been going through the three main storage places in our home ... an armoire, a side buffet and a curtained off section of a dead-end hallway.  Should have taken pictures before I started ... but oh well... all three were PACKED TO THE GILLS!!


 Almost done with all the piles ... only a couple items left to deal with ... tomorrow I'll post what the armoire and side boy look like now.

DH will be so surprised (at least I think he will) when he comes home and sees there is actually some empty space in the three storage areas!  I sold a lot of it at fire-sale prices ... the space and having the unwanted items (most are still in like new condition) go away was more important than getting a lot of money for them.   What went away was my stuff ... I know better than to get rid of anything of DH's without his approval.

Are there any projects you have been working on lately?  I have several others I have been working on ... but this one has been a priority for me.   


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Caught by a cat ?! ?!

We cat-sat for our neighbor recently ...
it was nice having a cat in the house again ...

it's been a year since our Siamese passed away ...
Harley is only about 4 months old ...
he likes to play ... A LOT !!!

Wandered into the bathroom, half asleep ... nightlight on ...
only to see a pair of yellow, glowing eyeballs staring from the sink ... 

... kitty laughter fills the room ...
Could you live down being laughed at by a cat?? 
I can't .... (sigh) ....

Friday, December 5, 2014

Have you ever put Christmas trees outside your windows?

I've seen lots of trees that are placed so that they can easily be seen through the windows ... but I don't recall ever seeing trees hung outside a window.   DH and I saw this recently in a nearby town ... the owner was still hanging and decorating them while we were shopping in the street below.

The branches on the side closest to the window are trimmed off and used elsewhere.

So much fun to see how other people do things ... not just Christmas, but all through the year ...  

People are people ... and we can all learn from one another.    Holly


Thursday, December 4, 2014

first snow of the season

First snow of the year fell yesterday ...   

Winter is here ...


... the last of the Christmas gifts are ready to go out!

Christmas cards have all been mailed ... most of the gifts have also gone out.  
It's a nice benefit to DH's deployment ~ many things were done well ahead of schedule. 

Of course, I haven't decorated our home this year ... other than putting out the Advent calendar and our Moravian Star.  

These are the last two gifts to go out ... the two relatives these are going to don't read my blog (and my son already has his gift) ... so I can share this with you.   
It's my simple version of this pin:

Was hoping to get a box from the local pizza place ...
 but that's didn't work out (rats!).

Will express-mail them tomorrow when I go grocery shopping ... then I will be done!!

Now I can just relax and enjoy the season
     ... and watch the snow fall....


Getting a jump start on New Year projects

My dear husband is currently deployed ... so I am home, alone and while I am getting out a bit to enjoy the German Christmas season ... for the most part, I am working on projects and purging out my clutter (and I seem to still have quite a bit even with all the de-cluttering and purging I have done over the last two years).

While roaming around the web today, I ran across this link ...

A lot of times I don't know quite where to start .. or I have a limited amount of time (15 minutes, half-hour,  maybe even just five) and while I want to do something productive, am stymied how best to spend that time ... this link has a great list of things to toss, purge, donate or otherwise exile from my home so I don't have to try and come up with ideas (if I don't already have "stuff" screaming "let me GO!!").  
I will be adding this list into my Home "Flight Control" binder (that is a long-term work in progress ... but I hope it will be finalized by early next year so I can have it printed off.
Yes ... I am old-school enough to prefer a "printed on paper" list of routine, home maintenance tasks and suggestions.  Having a known maintenance cycle of projects and upkeep will let me take care of most things preventatively ... love that concept!!

Here's to chipping away at the clutter and my projects .... would love to hear your ideas for keeping your life in control.  Please share what works for you.

Back into the dimly, dark corners to see what I can find!!   

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Fields of Gold from last summer

At the edge of our village, one farmer was growing sunflowers ... 
and hay of course ... lots of farmers grow hay here .....

DH and I walked past this on one of our longer walks ...

These sunflowers were only about 5-feet tall 
with flowers about six-inches petal tip to petal tip ...
Golden flowers basking in the sunny rays ...
Pretty sight ... one to treasure in my memory now that winter is nearly here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

gotta love it!!

A friend sent me this on Thanksgiving... just had to share 
(okay... didn't HAVE to ... but I'm going to anyhow)

Don't know who the creator is so I can give him/her credit for this ... 
he/she has a great sense of humor and imagination!

Smiles!!   Enjoy your day ~  Holly


Monday, December 1, 2014

Cool hair!!

St Wendel hosted a magician's fest recently ...
lots of magicians circling the church ...
some good, some not so good ...
This gentleman and his partner were fantastic!!
Could have watched the two of them all day long ...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Pelicans are pink??

DH and I recently visited the zoo in Cologne, Germany (we often visit zoos in our travels ... makes a nice break, we can wander around looking at how other cities put together displays, see some really cool animal shows or see animals we might not otherwise see) .... 

I have seen pelicans lots of times while I was in the military ... 

but I don't think I have ever seen a pink pelican ... love the feather crest he has going down the back of his head ...
What is your favorite animal to see ... anywhere, zoo, in the wild ... your choice.  


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to my friends around the world!

May your stuffing be tasty, may your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes & gravy have nary a lump,
May your yams be delicious, may your pies take the prize,
May you remember your blessings and hopes that the rolls will rise.
Wishing you a joyful time with your families this Thanksgiving.

*********Happy Thanksgiving! *********


Monday, October 20, 2014

Wandering the paths

We've been going out most mornings for walks ... we take a slightly different route each time we go out.  Lots of paths ... if we chose, we could wander our way all over Germany and most of Europe ... starting from the paths by our front door.

A really BIG snail DH found on our walk ... probably six inches long!!
I thought the patterning on the head and neck was pretty cool looking.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

I'm back ... what's new in my life

Seems like I'm making a hobby of disappearing for long periods ... I realized that I was spending way too much time on the Internet and neglecting my life, home and family.  Pinterest (love it ... but ....) especially was a source of hours of mindless wandering ... tracing one idea after another. 

Went nearly cold turkey ... only was on the Internet to take care of our finances and limited Emails.  Amazing how much time I had to invest in my home and family.  Didn't stop using the computer ... just the Web. 

Was able to organize masses of digital photographs which were buried in the hidden recesses of my computer ... no one could enjoy them, they were stashed away.  Gathered them all together ... sorted by month, then event, deleted the duplicates and the "fuzzies" ... next step is to create a photo book (I'm going to do it by year) and have the book printed.  Still tagging and naming some of the photos ... but I've gotten rid of SO many that were just there.  Such a feeling of relief!!

As you may remember - DH and I moved last year up to Germany.  Our home here is quite a bit smaller than our one in Sicily (still miss Sicily ... it's become a second home) ... so I've been purging out a lot of belongings.  Still have more than I want ... but making progress.   Have run into a problem with lack of storage pieces .... gotta have some place to store the extra blankets, jackets, cushions for the patio furniture ... so have to figure out how to resolve that.  Not a lot of room to put the storage units ... but I really do need to figure out how to store what is only used seasonally or irregularly. 

We're still exploring our new area ... lots to see.  DH and I have gotten into the habit of walking most mornings ... lots of walking paths in our village.   Am also been experimenting more in the kitchen ... lots of good food ... some failures. Weather has been changeable ... lots of drizzle, some rain, a bit of sun ... getting cooler ... the leaves are starting to change colors.

Shall we explore Holly Berry's World?


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Apple-Ginger Jam

Taking advantage of all the wonderful apples grown here in the local area
and making apple-ginger jam.
Really easy ....
wash, peel and shred 3-pounds of apples (about 1.5 kg)
add 2 teaspoons ground ginger (the dry spice)
add in the appropriate amount of sugar and pectin
(I'm not providing the amounts in this posting ..
German stores sell the sugar-pectin mixture the recipe I use specifies ...
you can check with your local farm bureau or 
canning advice service to get the recommended amounts .... 
I don't want give you the wrong amounts and
have you end up getting sick ... that would be BAD!!!)
Let apple-ginger-sugar-pectin mixture sit in the refrigerator 24 hours
Pour mixture into a pan and bring to a slow boil
(keep stirring to keep it from burning),
cook for 5-10 minutes until a cooled sample is gelatinous
(I put a small spoon of it on a plate, blow on it to cool it and tilt the plate)
Once it is gelatinous, scoop into canning jars -
Clean off the rims and screw the lids on.
Flip upside down and let cool.
You will hear the lid "Pop" when it seals.
You can keep this on a shelf in a cool area for 3-6 months
(we're doing good if it lasts 2 months).
Don't need to pressure seal or boiling water process this (good deal!!) 
Here's some I made a few days ago (sorry about the fuzzy photo)
We'll be able to enjoy the flavor of fall well into Winter ... Yumm!!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Feelings about San Diego Wildfires

The more I see of San Diego County fires --- the more I really don't want to ever move back there.  I have a phobia about wildfires... when I was in the Navy, fires onboard ships don't bother me so much ... they can be contained and we were trained to deal with them ... wildfires just keep jumping and expanding.  My fear is rooted from my freshman year of high school.  There was a really big fire in the area just east of where we lived.  That weekend was homecoming weekend for our church; Sunday the sky was all yellowy and a lot of people didn't show up for the homecoming.  The church and our home were close to the edge of the populated areas ... it was a lot of semi-wildness and overgrowth to the east.  At school on Monday, lots of students were missing since they had been evacuated or their parents kept them home.  The district decided to cancel school midway through the day and sent everyone home.  We lived a couple miles from my high school - it was considered within walking distance so I started walking home.  One of my teachers stopped and gave a ride to the corner of our street and dropped me off there.  Walked down the block - no one was home.  Dad was at work and no idea where Mom was.  She didn't leave a note.  I'm pretty uneasy so try to find a neighbor to stay with until Mom comes back.  Knocked on every house on our block --- no one answers other than one son and he was getting ready to leave (on his motorcycle).  Since he didn't have an extra helmet and I wasn't experienced being a passenger on a motorcycle he didn't want to take me with him.  Now I'm really uncomfortable --- so I try to call Dad at work.  One NEVER EVER called my Dad at work .... it had better be a death or an emergency to call him at work.  That didn't work ... the phone lines are out.  I'm now panicking ... so I toss some stuff in a daypack and start walking to my grandparents home in Pacific Beach (about 20 miles away).  Skirted the foot of Mt Helix, got into La Mesa (city) and am chugging away. Probably got close to 8-10 miles on my way when the cops picked me up because it is well after dark, I'm a young girl alone (qbout 13 years old) with a backpack and some of the nearby areas were not the best.  I explained I was on my way to my grandparents because school was closed mid-day due to the fire, none of our neighbors were home and I couldn't reach my parents.  Cops called my grandparents, who came to get me.  Late that night they finally get hold of Mom and tell her I am with them.  Mom comes to get me and she is furious.  I realize now that she was scared since she hadn't known where I was ... but she never seemed to realize just how terrified I was.  When I expressed my fears about the fire over the weekend while several of our neighbors were leaving to stay with friends or relatives ... she discounted my feelings and told me there was nothing to be worried about.  I couldn't understand why she's saying there's nothing to worry about while I'm watching the Boccias, Waterhouses and Mitchells (all adults) pack up and leave the area.  Just didn't make sense.  Then the district cancels school mid-day ... just added to my confusion.  As I said, Mother was furious when she got to my grandparents home.  It was one of the few times that she ever hit me with a belt.  Now I can understand that she lost control because she was so upset over not knowing where I was or what was happening to me.  But -- I was scared and there was no one to ask for help.  Could have gone and stood in the middle of a busy street near the house and begged for rides ... but knew that behavior was completely unacceptable in my family.  Wildfires still terrify me to this very day.   In 2001 (Cedar Fire), had to drive a section of freeway with flames on both sides of the road (and firefighters) to get to work road and another time when DH and I went to check out a car my son wanted to buy - one of the roads we had to drive crossed the path of a wildfire and we saw the fire jump the road.  DH got to see me come completely unglued at that point.    

Nope - the wildfires may outweigh all the wonderful qualities of life in San Diego for me.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

interesting movie and musing

DH and I were watching "The Battle of Britain"  (1969 version) this evening on British FreeSat.  Really good movie.  DH enjoyed seeing all the different aircraft used (he ADORES planes and flying) -- according to IMDB, so many planes were used in the production that it was actually the production operated the 35th largest air force in the world at the time and most of the movie budget was spent on acquiring and refurbishing aircraft.

I was enjoying looking at all the locations - we have lived in southern Spain and visited the UK (lots) - so it felt familiar.  

During the final credits, a list was shown of the nationalities involved in the battle ... I was surprised to see that Israel was listed as such ... Israel wasn't created until 1948 and the Battle of Britain happened in 1940.   Oh well ... it's just a matter of phrasing.  

Battle of Britain happened 74 years ago early in WW2.   Lots of areas here in Europe are having commemorations this year of World War I (1914-1918).  

So much has happened in the last hundred years ... wonder what the next hundred will be like.

Monday, May 5, 2014

springtime bunnies ...

A bunny in a nearby farmer's field of rapeseed (for rapeseed oil ... lots is grown in the area) .... 

What signs of springtime show up in your area?  Is there a flower patch, a flock of birds or something else that really tells you that Springtime is here?  


Sunday, May 4, 2014

what greeted us ...

DH and I went on holiday recently ... purged out the fridge and the cupboards so there would be no "science experiments" when we came back (we were gone a month for DH's work).  
This is what greeted us when we came back ...


Forgot to check the onions in the chicken ~

Glad this was my only  "science experiment" after the trip.




Friday, May 2, 2014

saw this in a local market today ...

DH and I saw this in a local grocery today while picking up produce .... surprised me to see it.  
It's made by a German brewery and apparently is quite popular here in Europe.

So glad that Homer is NOT on the packing ... that would cheapen the appearance for me.  

We didn't buy any ... 

Would you have added this to your shopping basket?
I'd love to hear what unique items you have seen in your local shops.




Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sharing a new self-indulgence!

I found a new self-indulgence the last week at a local market!  DH won't touch it (not something he enjoys in the slightest) ... so it's all mine ... mine....mine!!

The flavor is blood-orange & pomegranate.  It is fabulous!!  And reasonably priced.  I could enjoy it morning, noon and night (I know, cliche to the max) ... but I love the taste and since we left Sicily, there isn't gelato readily found. 

This works!!

What is your favorite indulgence? 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What's up?? Clearing and Purging ...


Bet you all thought I fell off the end of the earth!  Sometimes it feels like I did!

Been busy purging out things I should have gotten rid of before our move last year ... and each go-round, I find more and more to get rid of.  DH and I went back to Sicily for a month (him for work and me to play, see friends).... and I brought back a ton of stuff ... most of which I am now looking at and saying "why - why - WHY???"

I forgot my codes to get into this blog -- embarassing, right??  I changed them ,,, and then didn't update my passwords chart a goofball, I probably figured "I'll remember that!"  and promptly forgot.  

The last two months or so, I have working hard on organizing digital photos.  Have gathered up all the CDs, memory cards and sticks, old computers (still have to find a place to E-cycle them after getting them wiped clean) and anything else I can find that I've stashed photos on over the years.  Probably will find more as I continuing purging the excess "stuff" I've collected over the years (shudder to think of the money I've wasted ... but so life goes and learn from the mistake).   Getting rid of the fuzzy photos, labeling and organizing the others.  If I make the effort to take them ... may as well have them accessible so they can be enjoyed.

Plan to move photographs over to an online photo storage company like Flickr or Photobucket or such after I research which one works better for my life and also will go old-school and have some photo albums made of many of them.   Quite a few pins on Pinterest show people having photo albums again and using a company like Snapfish, Shutterfly or whatever makes it easy to put one together and with sales, it can be done fairly reasonably. 

Cleaning out my bookshelves (Son, bet that is something you NEVER thought you would hear your mother say) and have sent many books away using  Love, love, LOVE this FREE website!!  Been a member for about three years now.  You post your good condition books on the site.  If another member wants one of your books, you print off a mailing label, pay the postage and send it off -- the sender pays the postage and has credit posted to his/her account for the book.  That credit can be used to get other books from other members.  The "requester" doesn't pay a cent for the book ... just a credit from books previously sent out.    Over the last two weeks I have sent away 36 books ... but I've gotten in quite a few as well.  Not many reasonably priced English bookstores over here ... so this works great for me.  You can list books you want and if someone posts that book as being available ... you'll be notified so you can request it.   Makes up for the frustration of buying a book and discovering partway through that the book bores you silly ... put it up on ... may find a new home for it.    Not limited to paperbacks ... there are hard-covers, audio books and more -- there's a sister-site for movies (though I haven't been over there). 
Yup ... I'm "Holly-Berry-Elf" on

Been fighting a cold over the last week .. drinking lots of hot water with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, honey and either ginger, cinnamon or cayenne in it.  Sad part ... I've actually gotten to the point that I LIKE the taste of the stuff !?!

Re-organized our pantry last week.  It was a disaster ... though I think I need one more "canned" shelf in there.  Found (and tossed) a lot of expired stuff and things I have no idea just why I bought them  .. donated the still usable items. 




Chat with you all soon!   Holly