12 Jun, 2020

During these Uncertain Times, Trips Down Memory Lane Warm the Heart and Provide an Anchor

June 12th, 2020|Tags: , , |

In these days of the Coronavirus Pandemic, urban unrest and ensuing heightened uncertainty, I have found trips down memory lane especially meaningful and calming. They connect me to my former [...]

5 Jun, 2020

How to Bake the Perfect Treat for Strawberry Season: German-Style Strawberry Shortcake (Erdbeerkuchen)

June 5th, 2020|Tags: , , |

When I was a kid, my mom always made Erdbeerkuchen, i.e. German-style strawberry shortcake for my birthday because it falls at the beginning of strawberry season. Erdbeerkuchen was pretty much [...]

14 Feb, 2020

How to Get Started Writing your Family History in an Engaging Way

February 14th, 2020|Tags: , , |

The pile of letters Donna's father sent to his sister in Chicago while he was stationed in India during WWII, including the silk he sent her to make herself [...]

27 Dec, 2019

How Should You Handle Blemishes on Your Family’s History? Write About Them or Not?

December 27th, 2019|Tags: , , |

Family stories aren't always happy go lucky.* Welcome to installment one of my new advice column where I answer any question readers ask about writing compelling stories from family history. [...]

20 Dec, 2019

Sharing a German Grandmother’s Recipe that Became a Jewish Family’s Favorite Treat on Chanukah

December 20th, 2019|Tags: , , |

Snippet of my grandmother's original handwritten recipe For Chanukah it was become a tradition in my house to make one of my German grandmother's recipes, Gebackene Mäuse. The [...]

27 Sep, 2019

My Family’s Favorite, Tried-and-True, Easy Honey Cake Recipe That I Bake Every Year for Rosh Hashana

September 27th, 2019|Tags: , |

This is the season of honey cake, one of my favorite things in the world! And so I am happy to find myself in the kitchen today, baking honey cake, [...]

20 Sep, 2019

How a Book Still Makes Amazing Connections Two Years after Publication, and How my Mom Set an Example for Pursuing your Dreams in your Forties

September 20th, 2019|Tags: , |

Wedding picture in my book A book is a connector. That's one of the surprising things I learned after Jumping Over Shadows came out in April 2017. But now it's [...]

30 Aug, 2019

Excellent Advice for the Creative Soul from an Unlikely Source: Tomi Lahren

August 30th, 2019|Tags: , |

Excellent view of the White House and the Washington Monument as we were flying out of Washington, DC, and I was reading this book... I am not usually one to [...]

9 Aug, 2019

Farewell to a Fridge, Or: Is It Weird to Become Attached to an Appliance?

August 9th, 2019|Tags: , |

Farewell old fridge, and thanks for your service! I have to admit: My heart sank when the delivery guys carried out our old fridge. After serving us faithfully for 24 [...]

19 Apr, 2019

My Grandmother’s Original Recipe for Hazelnut Torte Which Happens to Be Kosher for Passover

April 19th, 2019|Tags: , , , |

Every Passover, I bake my German grandmother's signature Hazelnut Torte. In my family, it wouldn't be Passover without it. I included the recipe in Jumping Over Shadows because it is [...]

29 Mar, 2019

What Happened When Hitler Visited My Grandparents’ Hometown

March 29th, 2019|Tags: , , |

Hitler himself visited Reichenberg on Friday, December 2, 1938. His visit was geared to rally the populace for the supplementary elections to the Reichstag, to be held the following Sunday, [...]

19 Oct, 2018

Writing Postcards – A Tradition Continues

October 19th, 2018|Tags: , , |

Postcard carousel in the colonnade at Mariánské Lázně, Czech Republic (September 2016) Whenever I travel, I send postcards to my brother and sister. They do the same. This [...]

3 Aug, 2018

Honoring Our Roots

August 3rd, 2018|Tags: |

At our grandparents' grave - my sister, my brother and I Summer is the time of family reunions. Incidentally, just before my hip surgery, we had a family [...]

27 Jul, 2018

Hip Surgery: Some Insights from my Recovery So Far

July 27th, 2018|Tags: , |

Cover image of my favorite children's book, given to me by my American grandparents in 1968 I feel like Cinderella these days as I am recovering from hip [...]

18 May, 2018

My Grandmother’s Rice Pudding Recipe (Reisauflauf)

May 18th, 2018|Tags: , , , |

For this weekend's Jewish holiday of Shavuot (celebrating God's giving the Ten Commandments and the Torah (five books of Moses) to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai) it is customary [...]

19 Mar, 2018

Book Companion Post: My Aunt Herta

March 19th, 2018|Tags: , , |

Herta and I, Wiesbaden, 2002 Today would have been my Aunt Herta's birthday. I like to remember loved ones on their birthdays, and since Herta is one of [...]

23 Feb, 2018

Why Returning to Our Roots is so Meaningful

February 23rd, 2018|Tags: , , , , |

Why is it so meaningful to return to your roots? To where your ancestors are from? To visit places you only know from stories and pictures? I’ve asked myself that every [...]

7 Dec, 2017

Dead People’s Stuff

December 7th, 2017|Tags: |

With my brother-in-law's recent death, the topic of dealing with all the things the deceased leave behind has become center stage again for my husband and me. Incidentally, just prior [...]

30 Nov, 2017

Book Companion Post: Writing About Family

November 30th, 2017|Tags: , , |

My last visit with my brother-in-law Louis this summer As a memoir writer and particularly as the author of a family memoir, I am often asked how my [...]

22 May, 2017

Book Companion Post: Filling in the Blanks on Family History

May 22nd, 2017|Tags: , , , |

These past few days I have been able to do what I love best in my writing life: rummage around in family history. I've been rewriting an essay that O [...]

10 Mar, 2017

Purim Costumes from Home Depot

March 10th, 2017|Tags: , , |

The mermaid and the astronaut mentioned in the story... This Sunday is the Jewish holiday of Purim. I used to dread the arrival of Purim because that meant I [...]

5 Jun, 2016

Grandpa and the Tractor

June 5th, 2016|Tags: , , |

Father's Day is coming and so it is fitting that my essay about my grandpa, titled The Tractor, should be published this month on Thread, a literary magazine. Writing about [...]

9 Sep, 2015

The Postcard Tradition

September 9th, 2015|Tags: , , |

I haven’t been around because I’ve been chilling, and before I was chilling, I was traveling—days crammed with stuffing suitcases, riding taxes and buses, making it to the airport on time, [...]

16 Jul, 2015

Two Turrets: My Grandfather’s and Hemingway’s

July 16th, 2015|Tags: , , , |

Turret of the Hemingway Birthplace Home in Oak Park, Illinois Turret of my grandfather's former apartment in Liberec, Czech Republic The Hemingway Birthplace Home in Oak Park, Illinois has a [...]

13 May, 2015

The Sweetest Little Mother’s Day Gift

May 13th, 2015|Tags: , |

I just had to share this: My 17-year-old son gave me this for Mother's Day--a tiny rose he crafted from tin and copper, propped into the cutest little vase, namely [...]

2 Apr, 2015

Happy Passover with my German Grandmother’s Hazelnut Torte

April 2nd, 2015|Tags: , , , , |

I'm in the midst of getting ready for Passover, but I wanted to share that my grandmother's signature Torte made it to Tablet Magazine. Story and recipe here.

10 Jul, 2014

Sirens over Tel Aviv

July 10th, 2014|Tags: , |

This is the Tel Aviv building where we are currently staying on the top floor - the penthouse is set back so you can't see it from the street, plus it's rather [...]

15 Jun, 2014

In Honor of Father’s Day

June 15th, 2014|Tags: , |

I'm rerunning my six-word Dad memoir from three years ago, that sadly will always be true because, even 29 years after he died, the tears can still creep up on [...]

19 May, 2014

Eyeing the Emptying Nest

May 19th, 2014|Tags: |

I've been in a blogging slump, and I figure it's better to admit that than to publish lackluster posts. There are books I want to write about, photo essays I want [...]

11 May, 2014

Being a Parent Must Be Awesome…

May 11th, 2014|Tags: |

My "awesome" Mother's Day present this year "Being a parent must be awesome," says my 13-year-old son, eyeing me from the upper bunk as I wake him up in time [...]

7 Oct, 2013

Writing about Real People

October 7th, 2013|Tags: , , , |

Writing about real people, especially family, is probably the number 1 issue writers of personal stories worry about. But it is not just an issue for nonfiction writers... In my [...]

17 Jul, 2013

Rebecca McClanahan on Writing about Family

July 17th, 2013|Tags: , , , |

With her memoir The Tribal Knot - A Memoir of Family, Community and a Century of Change, RebeccaMcClanahan did what many of us wish we would do – "do something" [...]

5 Jul, 2013

My Grandparents’ House

July 5th, 2013|Tags: , , |

 The latest photo of my grandparents' former house, taken by me on my last visit in June 2009. My essay 'Thrown Out' of the Family Home was published in [...]

16 Jun, 2013

A Giraffe and a Donkey

June 16th, 2013|Tags: , |

For Father's Day I want to share two of my most treasured possessions: a giraffe and a donkey that my dad made out of wire - a simple present for his [...]

6 Jun, 2013

25th Wedding Anniversary!

June 6th, 2013|Tags: |

6/6/88 - we thought that was a cool date; still is, because both of us can remember it. We're not ones to make a big to-do about our wedding anniversaries [...]

14 May, 2013

A Salute to Joyce Brothers

May 14th, 2013|Tags: , , |

When I saw the news on my Chicago Tribune homepage last night that Joyce Brothers had died, my heart sank. I never met her, never had an exchange with her, [...]

13 May, 2013

A Little Album of Love

May 13th, 2013|Tags: , , |

with my parents at age one As part of my "Create" motto for this year, I've been reading Julia Cameron's Walking in this World: The Practical Art of Creatively, and I [...]

25 Mar, 2013

A Family Tradition: Hazelnut Torte (Kosher for Passover)

March 25th, 2013|Tags: , , |

My version of Oma's Hazelnut Torte on its very own cake stand, used only on Passover For every birthday of my childhood, there would be my German grandmother's Haselnusstorte (hazelnut [...]

15 Feb, 2013

Chocolate Pudding

February 15th, 2013|Tags: , |

Isn't chocolate pudding the perfect little comfort food? Easy and quick to make, and good in any season? Yesterday I made some in preparation for tonight's Shabbat dinner. We don't [...]

19 Dec, 2012

A Childhood Window Recreated

December 19th, 2012|Tags: , , |

Recently, as I was rewriting a chapter from my memoir into the essay Giving Up Christmas that was published in Tablet Magazine, I leafed through a photo album of childhood [...]

13 Dec, 2012

12/12/12 – A Quiet Day

December 13th, 2012|Tags: , , , |

Inspired by Xanthe Berkeley's challenge on Shuttersisters to create a time capsule of 12/12/12, I decided to capture this ordinary day so that sometime in the future, maybe 20 years from [...]

10 Dec, 2012

My Most Meaningful Read of 2012: Secrets and Spies – The Harbin Files

December 10th, 2012|Tags: , , , |

Of all the books I read this year, the one I have thought most about, talked most about and continue to think about is Mara Moustafine's Secrets and Spies - [...]

9 Nov, 2012

In Memory of Kristallnacht

November 9th, 2012|Tags: , , , |

The "Temple of the Israelite Cultural Community" in Reichenberg, burned down during Kristallnacht November 9-10 marks the anniversary of Kristallnacht, when in 1938 in all the territories controlled by the [...]

5 Nov, 2012

Writing About Family

November 5th, 2012|Tags: , , |

My grandmother and me at my wedding I'm thrilled to be guest blogging on Shirley Showalter's blog today. Topic: Writing About Family. It's the hairiest issue in writing memoir, at least [...]

23 Oct, 2012

A Little More than Déjà Vu

October 23rd, 2012|Tags: , |

Has it ever happened to you that you find yourself in a situation where you feel you’ve been in that exact same situation before? As if you were repeating your [...]

8 Oct, 2012

On Owning a Story

October 8th, 2012|Tags: , |

When you write memoir, sooner or later you come upon the issue of, "Is this my story to tell?" - "What about the other people in the story?" As with [...]

21 Sep, 2012

A Plant as a Companion

September 21st, 2012|Tags: , |

Our asparagus fern rules the sunporch The other day I was reading E.B. White's One Man's Meat again, and in the particular essay I happened upon, he was talking about [...]

4 Sep, 2012

On Easing Separation Anxiety

September 4th, 2012|Tags: |

I remember those days of handing a screaming child off to a preschool teacher very well. The first time around it was tough to leave my two-year-old son, especially when [...]

27 May, 2012

Bike the Drive

May 27th, 2012|Tags: , , |

Catching my own shadow biking earlier this year, when I was still wearing a heavy jacket. This morning, as this post is going up, I am biking the Drive. Bike [...]

20 May, 2012

At the Hyde Park Garden Fair

May 20th, 2012|Tags: , |

It's one of our family traditions to go to the Hyde Park Garden Fair, held in our neighborhood the third Friday and Saturday in May, to buy the plants for our porch. (It's [...]

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