Family Reunion in Europe

If I begin at the beginning, I will say that I was born in Munich, and that my family later moved to the Allgäu region of Bavaria, southwest of Munich, near the famous Neuschwanstein Castle (which is not all it’s made out to be … long story).
By the way, as I post this on Sunday June 30th 2019: it is 30 years ago today that I arrived in Canada!

I grew up with five siblings – four ‘whole’ ones and two ‘half’ (from my father’s first marriage).  I am a middle-aged woman, and my friends have started to get sick, some have died. Makes you think.  A couple of years ago, I started instigating the idea of a sibling reunion; my brother Peter took the idea and ran with it. This event just took place, and I am blown away.

with my siblings, our spouses and children and their partners

We decided to meet not in Germany, but in a place in Northern Italy which carries our family name: Andrich. Peter has done a lot of research: almost everyone in this village carries this name. About 250 years ago, some 150 people decided to leave to seek their fortune: half went to Brazil, half to Germany. All of them were carpenters.  We have not done the genealogical explorations to be certain that our clan originated here, but our father and grandfather were also woodworkers, just sayin’ . Until it was lost to bombs during WW2, my father’s family owned a furniture manufacture in Dresden, producing Bauhaus designs.

The village of Andrich is nestled in the middle of the impressive Dolomite mountain range.  We stayed in a town nearby. On day one of our reunion, we hiked for several hours through valleys and up and down mountainsides to reach this small village. We crossed ice-cold glacier mountain streams barefoot, shoes in hand,  and traversed villages along the way. Such a walk was the perfect way to share in conversation, continually changing speaking partners.

The village which carries my family name, nestled in the dolomites

Our partners and children came along. Sadly, the oldest of my sisters broke her hip a week before the gathering, and was unable to make it. We skyped her in for a couple of occasions.

My brother Peter and his husband Michel

We took further excursions to mountaintops during the days. Evenings were spent reminiscing.

Two of my brothers had brought along photo albums or had digitalized my father’s old Super Eight films and endless slides – Papa liked documenting! There were some amazing shots and reels, which prompted laughter as well as thoughtful discussions. It was very meaningful for all of us to get together, share memories, and reconnect after many years of having gone our own ways.

we spent a lot of time pouring over family photos together

Venice! Ach … amazing.

This was also a first meeting of my family with my partner of over a decade. After the big gathering was over, we went southwards with just my brother Peter and his husband. We relaxed in natural thermal waters which come from deep below the earth in this region, and took excursions to the amazing Italian cities of Padua and Venice.

On a drive which took a little too long, climbing over the alps like Hannibal, we drove through 5 countries in one day (Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Germany), making our way towards Munich.

this image still does not covey the magnificence of those mountains

Where we just came from

There, we dropped in on the annual gathering of the extended clan in the home which my maternal grandparents had build, and in which my mother grew up during WW2. I was able to show my husband the bomb shelter in the basement, where she cowered during raids. Many delightful memories were also shared. How great to see my cousins and their children and my aunts and uncles, sip tea and eat delightful homemade treats in this space that carries so much of our family’s history.

This back yard holds so very many memories. Here, I got to catch up with my aunt Fridolin

Re-birth Rings: making your old jewellery into a new custom piece

You may have seen that I spoke on a panel discussion about gold last week. Not your usual conversation about this precious metal! The Shadow of Gold is a beautiful piece of storytelling about some very harrowing truths: the documentary highlights the perils of extracting this gorgeous metal from the earth. I want to thank director Robert Lang for bringing us this important film, and for graciously joining the screening and panel discussion in Halifax.

powerful film, followed by a great discussion

I will talk more about my gold sources in another blog post. For now, I thought I’d better follow up with a bit more information about re-using YOUR gold, since I have been getting a lot of questions about that.  I thought I’d explain how that whole thing works.

This is half-way into the process …

Finished!

The client was pretty excited when she came to pick up the ring. She later dropped me a note saying “Dorothée,
I am thrilled with my ring!
Thank you so much. ” Made my day

 

Many people have gold jewellery kicking around which, for one reason or another, they no longer wear. These might be concerns of aesthetics, size, or they may be deep emotional reasons. Fire purifies and renews!
One way or the other: gold can most definitely be recycled, and made into something brand new. Here is how that works:

Taking apart one ring, and starting to make a new one with the gem

I’ll say right off the bat that it is a lot more complicated than you would think. I cannot simply melt the gold into a new ring; this would compromise the strength of the gold itself, as the precious metal could become brittle from being melted repeatedly. In order to do this correctly, your old gold will need to be refined first to 24k purity, then re-alloyed (mixed with other metals to make it 18k), and then used to cast a custom piece, or made into the 18k gold wire I use to forge you a new gold Onefooter ring from.

The result of the above image: a rebuild for a 20th anniversary

The way this works in real time is that I credit the trade-in value of stamped and hallmarked gold, and subtract that value from the price of your custom piece. Depending on the quality of the stones in your original piece(s), I may be able to use some, or all of them, in the creation of a new piece.

This simple solitaire and wedding band set are about to get a make-over

So come see me in my Halifax studio (make an appointment here), or call me with your questions: 902.422.9460. If you don’t live here, we can work remotely. I can safely ship your materials to my studio, not to worry. 

Here are some examples of rebirth rings I have made for my clients:

18k palladium white gold for the new version of this old engagement ring

 

This massive Amethyst was the client’s grandmother’s . It looked great in its rebirth form atop a 18k yellow gold Twofooter ring

 

A completely newly imagined version of the ring that originally held these stones. This one is 18k palladium white gold – no rhodium plating needed!

 

This full carat stone got a new home in a 18k yellow gold Onefooter ring

The Shadow of Gold

Looking uncomfortable new truths straight in the eye seems to be the best option, I figure. Not having shied away from difficult topics in the past on this blog (nor in my life), this is a new one.

If you know anything about me, you probably know that I love to eat. And that I love love love to work with gold. This is what drew me to attend the International Gold Conference in NYC earlier this month, which presented a variety of topics about the metal: its worth, its makers (jewellery-world luminaries such as such as Stephen Webster, Mimi So, and the amazing team from Catbird NY) . Makers, subcontractors and educators from Brooklyn and from London, UK, and much more.

It also presented the darker side of gold: its mining practices. I had come across things I would have rather not have known.  Joanne Lebert form Canada’s IMPACT was particularly impressive to me.

Discussing gold mining and its perils at the Gold Conference in NYC this month                                                               (Robert Lang on the right)

It’s not like these contemplations were entirely new to me; I had heard enough. But I had never heard it with such clear voices, and I had certainly never seen it on film. Prior to this, I made sure my precious metals suppliers adhered to strict environmental standards within Canada/USA, but I did not look deeper. I knew that the majority of the gold I use is recycled. I recycle gold which my clients trade in when I re-create their old pieces into a new one.  And I had, in fact, just a few weeks earlier decided to order my first batch of fair mined gold – at a premium price. Like the local or organic veggies I buy, I knew certification and accountability would have it’s price.  

All this makes me glad that a film is coming to Halifax next week, which shines a light on the issue: “Shadow of Gold” takes a close-up look at this beloved metal, examining stories in China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dubai, USA, Peru, and beyond. David Suzuki calls it “a very important film that should be seen”. Watch the trailer here: Shadow of Gold.

We are lucky that one of its award-winning Canadian filmmakers, Robert Lang, will be present for the screening.  And I am honoured to have been invited, as the only maker, to join the panel which will convene following the screening.  This is a topic which should be very relevant to Nova Scotians, as there is gold exploration right here!

The post-screening discussion will be moderated by journalist and author Joan Baxter, featuring panelists Raymond Plourde (Ecology Action Centre), Stacey Gomez (Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network- BTS), and Hannah Martin (Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia – SUNNS, We’kopekwitk First Nation)

Come and join us in being brave enough to face the truth about this coveted material, which can bring such suffering and destruction, including right here in Canada (as you will be shocked to learn, as was I).

Special Screening + Discussion

Paul O’Regan Hall – Halifax Central Library,
Tuesday, May 7th
Doors open at 5:30pm. The film will begin at 6pm
followed by discussion

Joyful Low-carb Living

It may not be becoming to speak of one’s age, but I am not afraid: I am nearing fifty rapidly, and happily. When menopause started hitting, like so many women, I experienced sudden weight gain. If you have been following me for a while, you will know that I love to eat – and cook! The combination was going to be a problem. I tried portion control – I really did. But I love food so much, it made me feel rotten and deprived. Being the analytical person I am, I took a good look at my intake, and basically pretty quickly determined that, regarding calories, the least bang for the buck were those delicious empty carbs: bread, pasta, rice. And of course sugar.

I didn’t want to go crazy, but I needed a clear boundary. So I simply said: no grains, no refined sugar. And tons and tons and tons of vegetables. I lost almost 30 pounds quite rapidly. So I stuck with it! I don’t call it a ‘diet’, I call it a lifestyle. It’s been about 3 years, and I joyfully continue. I am consistent with it, but sometimes, I just drop it for a special occasion. One thing I learned is to bake low-carb (I only found out much later that ‘paleo’ was a helpful term for finding recipes).

And because I love sharing things I am excited about, I wanted to share a recipe with you here. This one is for low-carb biscuits. These take out 5 minutes to make (15-20 to bake), and are only 4-5 grams of carbs in each (as comparison, a slice of whole-wheat toast has 13grams). Not low-carb enough for a keto diet, but just right for me!

I have been experimenting adding things: seed mixture on top, or grated cheese folded in. Give this a try if you are curious! And let me know if you like the idea of sharing recipes here!

Grain-free, low-carb Biscuits

Ingredients 

Dry Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/3 cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons hemp seed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2+ teaspoon salt


Wet ingredients:
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream (or yogurt, or coconut milk with lemon juice)
2 TBS butter (or coconut oil), melted
2 TBS cream
2 TBS water

alternative wet ingredients for lactose-free version:
1 egg
1/2 cup + 2 TBS coconut milk
1 TBS lemon juice
2 TBS coconut oil, melted
another TBS of coconut milk as needed


Optional additions: seeds, grated cheese

Instructions 

1. Preheat your oven to 450F,
and in it an iron skillet of heavy baking sheet.

2. Mix your dry ingredients in a larger bowl with a dry wire whisk: almond flour, coconut flour, hemp seed, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. Then, with the same whisk, mix your wet ingredients: egg, sour cream, melted butter, cream, and water (or egg, coconut milk, lemon juice, and coconut oil).

4. Now mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients using just a few quick yet effective strokes (make sure to do this quickly, as the coconut flour absorbs liquid rapidly). Don’t over-mix this soft dough – just leave it be.

5. Carefully take your hot skilled or baking tray out of the oven. Brush it with butter or coconut oil (or bacon grease!)

7. Drop small heaps of dough onto the skillet, ideally using a mechanical portioning  scoop (such as this one), or a Tablespoon.

8. Return the skillet to the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden.

9. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before eating.

10. Serve warm with butter and a nice cup of tea. And, ideally, a friend.

Europe Trip, Part One: Markets and Walks

As some of you might know, I went to Austria and Germany this past December. I thought I’d share a bit about that adventure here. As I am writing, I realize that this trip was so rich, I will tell you about it over several posts – like a Mini-Series.

Even though I was born and raised in southern Germany, I had never been to Vienna. What a city! I can’t even begin to do it justice here.

Vienna!

We were extremely lucky to be hosted by dear friends in the heart of Vienna. They took us around everywhere, and offered the most delightful experiences.

You’d think that the famous Viennese Christmas markets would have been a target for a visit. Yet, we noticed that our hosts deliberately walked big circles around each and every one of them. Stirred by memories of Christmas Markets of my childhood, I finally asked to visit a specific small one (recommended by Janet, of Viennese background, who sells apples at our local Farmer’s Market): Spittleberg.

The Spittleberg Christmas Market is not in an open square like most others, but along a quaint little street

But what I found was much changed from the markets of my own childhood: sadly commercialized, and not a single ‘artisanal’ offering was actually locally made. Most of them carried imported mass produced items. A sad sign of the times.

One day, we hiked through the wintery vineyards on the outskirts of Vienna. From here, we could see the Danube. Our host explained the importance of this river to the history of Vienna. 

The river Danube in the distance

Our host, Martina, has her roots here: she was baptized in the church on the hill:

The church on the hill is one destination on these kinds of walks

One thing worth mentioning about our Vienna visit: we had been there a week before we realized that our hosts owned a car. They were so used to going everywhere on foot and/or by public transit, the car did not appear until a week into our visit. A very interesting fact, culturally speaking, don’t you think?

That’s it for now. I’ll tell you more soon! I’ll cover these topics:

     Part Two: Gallery Visits
     Part Three: Churches
     Part Four: Eating Culture
     Part Five: Kyudo, and an Unforgettable Gift
     Part Six: Germany

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