Sunday, September 15, 2019

Chowder died. And summer left us, too.

I have hesitated writing about this here on the blog, since I'm in such deep grief and shock.

My sweet dog Chowder died unexpectedly three weeks ago.  There are no words.  I wrote about it here if you want to know more about my beloved little guy.

This post here is to commemorate the last weeks of summer, when he hiked with us and accompanied us to the river.  He was with me all the time, either on my lap or somewhere by my side.

I miss him terribly.

Life has been so busy and filled with grieving my little friend that I haven't showed you any pictures of the end of summer here on the blog.

Here are some photos from various hikes when Chowder was still with us. I wish I had taken more photos of him.

Below is an excursion to Diabolo Lake.

And here a hike to Blue Lake (by Mount Baker) with the dogs and Eva plus best friend.

Then a hike near Bellingham, and watching paragliders jump off the mountain (I did this 25 years ago at the same spot with a hanglider).

A couple of weeks after Chowder died, the whole family hiked up to Squire Pass out of Darrington.  It wasn't the same without him, and I cried the whole time.  Our big dog Raka misses him, too.  She seems a little lost right now.

The day after Chowder died, I had to teach our homesteading and wilderness retreat.  I couldn't cancel it because we had people travelling from out of state, and a part of me knew the distraction would be good for me.

It was a wonderful event, with great participants.  They were so gracious and let me cry whenever I needed to.

The end of summer has been filled with harvesting and preserving food.

We grew more potatoes this year than ever, and the picture below only shows you a tiny fraction of the harvest.

We are also super happy with our onion harvest.  And I won't even mention all the zucchinis and the zucchini muffins I am baking...

I canned figs because this year our tree was so prolific.

I also canned beets and pears - treasures in the dark of winter.

Sorry that I don't have much to say today.  I'm muddling my way through the sadness.

I will leave you with more images from summer.

PS: Remember to reserve your spot at our retreat in Germany next July. We already have FIVE people signed up, and we can only accept a couple more!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Come to Germany with us! A week-long guided tour and retreat in Southern Germany, family style!

Have you always dreamed of visiting Germany but are scared of the language barrier, lack of local knowledge, and all the logistics?

Fear no more! I am a native German, and I would love to take a very small group to my homeland, much more inexpensively than all the other tours out there, and oh so much better!

My husband Steve and I invite you to spend a week with us, family style, and let us take care of all the details, logistics and hassles.  (Scroll all the way down for details)

All you need to do is book your flight, and we'll pick you up from the airport, transport you to our magical retreat space in the Alps, and take you from there on excursions to explore Southern Germany (castles, medieval towns, hiking, walking, a boat tour on Lake Constance, biking, bakeries, ancient churches, delicious German food...)

Our retreat accommodations are gorgeous.  It's a house in the mountains, accessible by car, in a dreamy secluded area that gives us privacy and quiet, but is close enough to the scenic town of Obersdorf, only 15 minutes by car.  It has five comfortable bedrooms, a huge kitchen, spacious living quarters, a sauna, deck, grilling area and a breath taking view.

We will customize the experience according to your preferences. We'll have different options for different people, depending on what you want to experience.

We'll take you into the Alps, and we know the best and most beautiful hikes with gorgeous views, green pastures and summit crosses. Even if you are not particularly fit, you can take a cable car/gondola up the top and enjoy the view. You can sit in an alp hut sipping beer, enjoy the view, and admire the cows with big bells around their necks.

We take you to my hometown Wangen, a historic walled city with cobblestones, towers, turrets, medieval buildings and a beautiful river flowing through it.  There's so much to do and see there!  You can choose a tour of the town (my Mom has great knowledge of the town, since she's lived there for 70 years!), visit a museum, drink coffee or eat ice cream in one of the many outdoor cafes, or just walk and stare at all the beauty.

We have a bakery there (one of many!) that's over 500 years old.  I am drooling just talking about this place, and you HAVE to stop there and order one of their signature baked goods!

On another day, we hop over to Lake Constance (Bodensee), a gorgeous lake at the border of Germany, Switzerland and Austria.  This area is unreal: vineyards, fruit trees, picturesque towns everywhere. Even an island with a castle and real royalty... It is called "The Mediterranean of Germany" because of its mild climate and gorgeous flowers.

From there, we go on a ferry tour, where we cross the lake and visit another town with a beautiful cathedral, cobble-stoned pedestrian zone, and lots of places to drool over.

On another day, we visit our local castle, the "Waldburg", dated from the 12th century.  On clear days, you can see as far as the Swiss Alps to the South, and the spire of the cathedral in Ulm to the North. 

The restored rooms in this castle are filled with history, including a collection of arms and armor, which you get to touch and try on.  You can also see the reproduction of the Holy Roman Imperial regalia and crown jewels (safeguarded here for the Emperor Frederick the Second in the 13th century).

An English-speaking guide tells you all kinds of fascinating historical tidbits.

If you want, you can climb up the tower and enjoy the view, and later even dress up in medieval clothing!

Another option are bike tours of various lengths and distances - it all depends on what shape you're in and how much energy you want to expend.

My father is a biking expert around our area.  There are e-bikes if you don't want to pedal on your own.

Whatever tour you choose, one thing is guaranteed: beauty, cows, pastures, and plenty of little places to refresh yourself with drinks and food. Or even a dip in one of the many lakes.

And how about a day in Ulm, with its famous Cathedral (the tallest church in the WORLD).  If you want, you can climb it, all 768 steps of it and be rewarded with a breathtaking view.  Or you can just stay downstairs and be humbled by the interior with its stained glass windows, architecture and holy atmosphere.

Ulm boasts a famous and charming Old Town. Two major rivers converge here, and you can find plenty of cute, romantic corners to sip wine. The shopping here is awesome, too, with amazing deals on all kinds of things.

You could spend a whole week and not be bored, what with all the beautiful features there.

We will take you to dinner in one of my favorite restaurants, in the "Lustiger Hirsch" (translated as "The Funny Stag"). The food is out of this world, and the atmosphere and furnishing as you would expect in an old, traditional farmhouse.

The views there are to die for.

Dinners will happen either in places like this, or at home in our retreat space.  Either way, you will be fed and wined and dined to the max, with traditional German food and drink.



July 12 til 19, 2020 


~ All accommodations
~ Transportation to and from the airport in Munich
~ Transportation to all events for the whole week
~ 8 breakfasts
~ Entrance fees and cost for castle, Lake Constance tour, cable car to the top of the mountain, Ulm catheral
~ 2 home cooked German dinners with beer and wine
~ Our expert and loving presence as tour guides


- Your airfare to Munich
- Lunches and dinners (6 of them)


There is very limited space for this retreat. We want to keep it family-style and only will take 6 to 8 people.

If you know you want to come for sure, please fill out this form >> HERE <<

If you don't know if you want to come for sure, fill out the form anyway, and we'll contact you to answer questions.

We encourage you to act QUICKLY, since several people are already interested!


We are not 100 percent sure yet, since we are still researching. Something comparable (although there is nothing out there like the family style atmosphere we will offer) costs almost $3,000.

We think we can offer this at about $2,000!

>> Click here <<

to fill out the form that shows us that you are either interested or have questions.

PS: Here is the movie I made about our visit to Germany this summer to give you an idea of the place and the activities.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Part Three - The last installment of our visit to Germany

You might think we just hiked, biked and sweated our way through the Alps when we visited Germany this summer. But no. We had plenty of city and town time, too, because why would you not if you could see stuff like this:

Honestly, this house with its beautiful paintings and arches really isn't that big a deal, considering there is one like that practically in every town. Maybe not in every town, and maybe not as grand as the one above, but Southern Germany is full of them.

On that particular day, we went to Ulm to see its gorgeous Cathedral, the Ulmer Muenster, which is the tallest church in the world.  My sister and her kids climbed the whole thing with us. That's 768 steps, and a bunch of kids with fear of heights. You can imagine.

Also, the final stairwell to the top is a spiraling staircase that has barely enough room for one person, and I had to fight back a panic attack when we were stuck in it.  The view was worth it, though.

Ulm also boasts a famous and charming Old Town.  Two major rivers converge there, and you can find plenty of cute, romantic corners to sip wine.

We had fun being tourists that day, strolling in alleys, taking a hundred pictures, buying a Dirndl for Belli. Dirndls are famous German dresses that are suited only for women with ample bosoms, and since all my sisters possess those, they all look gorgeous in them.  I drew the short straw in the boob department in my family. It must have skipped a gene.  Alas, no Dirndl for me...

Let me leave you with images from our last day. We took a ski lift up a mountain, just to say we did, and ended up on the most gorgeous hike, meeting cows with gigantic bells around their necks. I tend to find goats everywhere I go, too.

From up there, we could see the famous Neuschwanstein Castle, an iconic German tourist spot.  I hate places like this, swarming with people and very expensive to visit, but seeing it through our binoculars was awesome!

There ya go. Germany. My homeland.

Keep your eye out for another blog post, where I will tell you about an opportunity to go to Germany with me next year!

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