... the tales of two sisters

Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.

Talk with Tracie:Jutta’s Soup Kitchen and #GIVINGTUESDAY

Talk with Tracie: Jutta’s Soup Kitchen and #GIVINGTUESDAY


of the global movement of generosity, #GIVINGTUESDAY, I share this post.

This is the time of year when we begin to feel all warm and fuzzy inside. We share the greetings of the holiday season and our blessings somehow seem more apparent. This is indeed a wonderful thing, but there are some folks out here who do not feel warm and fuzzy and who don’t feel so blessed. And to that end, I’d like to share with you something I witnessed in Cologne a short time ago,  something I’ve never seen here before and I’ve lived in Cologne for about 10,000 years. 

According to 2019 data, Germany ranks #9 out of the top 10 top countries with the highest homeless population in the world. (!!) America ranks # 10. I did not know this until I researched the information for this blog post. One just doesn’t encounter homelessness here as one does in for example, my hometown, Seattle. This is more than likely because the law requires German municipalities to provide basic emergency accommodations to those at risk of homelessness. 

Don’t get me wrong– one does occasionally see people going through the glass recycle containers looking for bottles to sell, or perhaps see someone going through the parking machines looking for coins; it is also not unusual to encounter a vagabond (oftentimes children sent by their parents) begging for money, or someone sleeping on the sidewalk in a sleeping bag, or sitting on the pavement outside a grocery store or bank, but homeless tent cities and the like are not found here.

But! What I saw a few weeks ago stopped me in my tracks.

Making a morning walk down to the Rhine River, passing directly in front of the Cologne Cathedral, I happened to look over to my right. There was an extended line of people standing, waiting. I stopped and stared. There were no megaphones, no police, no outrage–just folks standing quietly in line. This was clearly not a demonstration of any sort and I wanted to know just what exactly was going on.

I edged nearer until I came within reach of my answer. Peering discretely through the throng of people I could see that this was not just a line–this was a breadline, right at the foot of the Cathedral. I couldn’t believe it. 

I asked who the organizer of this action was and I was told to speak with the lady in the blue sweater. Her name is Jutta and this was Jutta’s Soup Kitchen.

For my English speaking friends, here is a brief overview of what’s cooking in Jutta’s Soup Kitchen:

Jutta started her soup kitchen 26 years ago. At least that’s what people tell her. She doesn’t focus on the ‘small’ stuff. 

It was Christmas Eve, 26 years ago. Jutta had the idea to bring a hearty home-cooked soup to the homeless scattered around outside the Cathedral. It troubled her that most of the population could sit comfortably at home and enjoy the holiday meal while others were hungry on the street. Her husband who at one time operated a restaurant prepared 50 liters of soup (1 liter can serve 4-6 people). Jutta drove to the Cathedral with this vat of hearty nourishment –mind you, she lives 100 kilometers away–only to find that the homeless were at a midnight Mission Christmas celebration. 

What to do with 50 liters of soup? She came back to the DOM (Cathedral) the following day with the soup and served about 30 people. And today, 26, years later, she and her crew serve on average 200-250 people every second Friday of the month. Every month. Rain, shine, snow, nothing stops them. The line begins to form two hours before the ‘kitchen’ actually opens. 

Jutta was inspired by the activist Walter Hermann who during one particular advent season carried a sign on the grounds of the DOM that said, “No warm rooms for the homeless”. She offered him soup, which he and others gratefully accepted. 

Jutta told me that she began what would eventually become Jutta’s Soup Kitchen, with the thought in mind that oftentimes we engage in the ideal that at Christmas time we help others, and when Christmas comes to an end, so too does our generosity. She knew that people would be hungry after the holiday season, so she told the folks who were present at that initial gathering that she would be back in 2 weeks, and she was. No plan, no fear–just see the need and fill it.

Jutta keeps track of so many people in line by issuing them all a number. The homeless get a different color number because they have the FIRST priority. When the numbers are exhausted, Jutta’s Soup Kitchen keeps feeding everyone until the food has run out. 

She runs a tight ship and EVERYONE loves her–even those she sends to the back of the line after they cut in or don’t have a number. “Hey, Jutta! I need a pair of shoes!” I heard a man call out to her. She buys shoes, tents, sleeping bags, backpacks–anything she can that will assist people in living as dignified a life as possible. 

I asked Jutta what is or was her greatest challenge and or obstacle in her way of answering her call to help the less fortunate. She said that the only time she reconsidered what she was doing was many years ago when some morally challenged characters left a threatening note on her car: “Get out of here you beggar feeder,” then proceeded to spray paint her home, several homes of the people who help her–including the restaurant Peter’s Brauhaus where the soup is cooked today, as well as the owner’s home. I’ll say it again: God is either laughing at us or crying for us. 

She doesn’t like to say that she needs financial support–but she does. The day that I interviewed her, besides the huge vat of soup,  the kitchen dispersed 460 containers of yogurt pudding, 20 cases of milk, a vast assortment of bread, meats, sausages, sandwiches, juices, sweets, etc. And after the food ran out, she darted around the corner to her car where a throng of folks was waiting, popped open the trunk and dispersed dog and cat food. 

Just imagine if we had more Juttas…

My conclusion:

As human beings, it is our responsibility to help and support the disadvantaged members of our society. 

In doing so, we not only do something good for others, but also for ourselves, because generosity and charity give life a deeper meaning, and besides, it just feels good to do something for others so this is a win-win for everyone. 

So with these thoughts in mind, please remember that there are many people in many neighborhoods in every community who need support. A donation of your time, clothes, money, or food would be so appreciated. 

And keeping Daddy’s spirit in mind, as I always do, but especially now in the holiday season, and remembering the Thanksgiving he drove down Yesler Street to Skid Row, picked up a homeless man, brought him home, bathed him, dressed him in one of his suits and welcomed him to our dinner table, I know for certain, there is NOTHING better than generating joy by extending generosity. It is indeed a win-win for everybody.

And always remember this: no matter what you do, spare no effort because 

“It ain’t no givin’ up and no givin’ out!”

#GIVINGTUESDAY we see you!



Picture Perfect!

I grew up with framed photos of my ancestors, family, and friends on the walls of our home.  My father had studied art at the University of Washington, so he had a keen eye and with my mother’s gift for design, each wall descending from our staircase to our dining area of our family home felt like visiting a gallery with personal photos and paintings.

In recent years, I too have fallen in love with art, and I enjoy blending the old with the new.  Recently, I have been supporting local Washington State artist, and when I needed framing, I called my friend Dee, proprietor of McQuesten Framing & Fine Art Services, LLC.  Dee framed some of my new collection by Catherine Mayer, wife of Real Estate developer, Martin Selig and she also framed a childhood artistic impression my daughter created of our family at age 5.  I share this to point out that Dee can take any special memento and make it a masterpiece.

Dee, my amazing tennis playing friend, who engaged me to help coach at risk youth in learning the game over the summer.  The same Dee who published a book, and fascinating read, The Inconvenient Child.  As intriguing as the name of her book is, there is absolutely NOTHING inconvenient about Dee and the various hats she wears which include philanthropy, tennis, mother, wife, friend, author and framing and fine art services.

McQuesten Framing & Fine Arts is committed to crafting beautiful handmade fames using centuries old European techniques. Since 1994, Dee has been utilizing her fine art and design background, as well as her love of art and expertise to bring the best out of your treasured pieces.  Dee offers art installation, custom framing, and art purchasing for both corporate and private clients.

With the holidays upon us, please note, Dee offers gift certificates and Visa and Mastercard are accepted.

Fun fact… Dee has mounted 92 pieces at Canlis Restaurant, so that alone should tell you, if you need in home display, shadow boxes, restoration, frame & mirror restoration, art consultation and purchasing or certified fine art, jewelry 7 antique appraisals check out  or 206 650-5508 she will make it picture perfect!


Dee shining with some of our tennis friends at Chihuly in the Desert!


Something for Your Toolbox

You Are What You Eat!

Ah, the season of seasonings is upon us.  What will be on your Thanksgiving menu?  Yesterday, I stopped into Bob’s Meats in Columbia City.  Staring at the case of beautifully cured bacon, sausage, and pork offerings, I ordered a ham with glaze and a pound of hog head cheese for my mom.  Even in my days of eating red meat, which is now coming up on 7 years ago, I never would have indulged in the hog head cheese.  I know I’m in the minority in that any form of cheese is not appealing to me.  It just stinks, so that was not a loss, but some days I do miss the taste of crisp bacon drowning in my eggs, or mama’s long pots of red beans and rice cooked down in a ham shank.

My decision to give up red meat came at a dinner 7 years ago where I took my now husband to The Herb Farm for his birthday.  Eric hasn’t eaten red meat in 50 years.  Let’s just say it was his being traumatized on a field trip to a slaughterhouse as a child.  I was a complete carnivore when we started dating.  Truly a great night ended with a Dick’s burger run, but something hit me that December night at the Herb Farm as I munched away on the Beef Cheeks placed before me, and Eric enjoyed his meatless dish.  The squishy muscles of the cow didn’t settle in my mind or in my palate.  I had always suffered with digestive issues, and I was concerned about the atmosphere.  Eating one hamburger wastes more water on the planet than 2 months of showering- bye bye, Dicks!  There are so many programs that discuss the ill effects on what we are putting into our bodies, so watch the programs with caution.  After watching My Octopus Teacher, I’m gonna pass on the calamari too.  Octopus are among the most intelligent and behaviorally diverse of all invertebrates.

I have not forsaken all poultry and I still enjoy chicken and fish. I’m fully of the issues with chicken and fish, and I choose not to watch any more shows- so no need to share!  But with that being said, changing your eating habits is work. I am a self-admitted sugar addict.  For me it’s all or nothing.  So, for my birthday this year, I gave myself the gift of giving up candy.  I was not the person who could just have one jellybean, it was the whole damn bag or two. Like a kid with his Halloween loot, I could consume every hot tamale, licorice, peanut brittle, or peanut cluster placed within my reach.  As the cartoon shown here depicts, I knew I was adversely affecting my health and nuts and needed to change.  I now satiate my sweets by savory pineapple, tangerines, apples and grapes- and yes, those grapes in wine too!

This Thanksgiving, I will enjoy the turkey, I’ll make sweet potatoes, potato salad, crisp green beans, and mama’s homemade stuffing. I’m fortunate my husband can and loves to cook, so we will all be in the kitchen together.  Mama will do her mac n cheese for the cheese lovers in the family, and she will enjoy her hog head cheese.   I can honestly say making a dietary change takes discipline in the beginning, but it is said it takes on average 66 days for a new habit to become automatic.  My birthday was 88 days ago- and I can breeze past the candy isle and not take a second look!

Whatever you indulge in- enjoy and most of all be Thankful!

San Franciso… Then and Now

Like the song, San Franciso has always held a special place in my heart.  As a youngster, this Golden Gate City was a frequent spot for our family vacations.  I recall the excitement of going down the most crooked street in the world.  Dining on the delicious seafood on Market Street.  Daddy, a real estate buff was fixated on the architecture, and we would drive through neighborhoods so he could garner inspiration for his Seattle projects.   I marveled each time we visited Alcatraz also known as the Rock which housed well known criminals from Al Capone and the 1st Publlic Enemy #1 Alvin Karpis.  On Augus 16, 1977, I have a vivid recollection of our family driving through the Wharf District when the radio announced The King- Elvis Presley had died.

Over the years, I have spent time enjoying live music at the Fairmont and shopping and walking Haight-Ashbury, so when my husband invited me to join him at a REIT Conference at The Marriot Marquis, I was happy to accompany him.  Ovr

Living in The Pacific Northwest, I am familiar with our homeless crisis, and I am fully aware that San Francisco is dealing with this crossroad as well.  Eric suggested I take a Lyft to my destinations; however, I was in a .08 radius of my desired shops, so I headed out on foot.  In my mind’s eye, I was thinking of my friend’s brother who was brutally assaulted on these streets a few months back and lost his life.  I witnessed the homeless, the addicted, and the mentally unstable on every block of my travels.  I was barked at, begged upon, and had to dodge bein spat at.   City officials estimate as many as 20,000 people will experience homelessness at some point in 2022.

As a housing provider, I support programs to get people off the street.  Defecating in public, open drug use, trespassing, assault, battery and not having a safe neighborhood in which to raise kids, I do not support.  A holistic approach that tackles the root causes of homelessness can prevent communities from sliding into an abyss.

Sipping my red wine from the epic, Art Deco View Lounge of the Mariott Marquis and catching up with dear friends, I couldn’t help but glance at the streets below and reflect on the conditions of this city which still has a piece of my heart.

Be safe, be aware, and amplify your voice- your city matters.


Pavle Perovic in the Menopausebarbee Spotlight


thing about having this blog is that it gives my sister and me the opportunity to showcase our friends’ and acquaintances’ talents.

 To that end, today, I am sharing the artistic skills of my dear friend Pavle Perovic. I’ve known Pavle and his wife Anne Maria for over thirty years now, and I’ll always hold the memory of our vacation together in their home in Zadar, Croatia near and dear. 

You know, it’s a lovely thing to travel, but to become immersed in a country and live it on the daily with natives is an exceptional experience. We explored public markets, learned a few important words of the language, swam in the Adriatic Sea during the day, enjoyed home-cooked meals with friends, and sang folklore until late in the night. And of course, I couldn’t help myself from picking the gigantic Kiwis and sugar-sweet grapes from Pavle’s mother’s garden!!

And now to Pavle. 

Pavle is not only a generous person by nature, but he is also a skilled, passionate, and happily talented artist, having presented art exhibitions in Germany, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. I thought that it would just be a shame not to share his expressive artworks; gems that leave nothing to the viewer’s eye, but can leave much to the imagination…

If you’d like more information about Pavle and his illustrations, do get in touch with me and I’ll make the connect.


Something for Your Toolbox

#alberteinstein #facts #quotes #bebrave #universe #aintnogivinupandnogivinout #daretolive #dontbeafraid #gohardorgohome #inspirationalquotes #bravewomen #womenempowerment #entrepreneurs #womensupportingwomen #transformation



In Concert for Cancer!

When you are going to an old school concert to support the fight against cancer at Jazz Alley with a great dinner and drinks and Ray Parker Jr. is performing, Who You Gonna Call?

When I got a call from one of my besties, Stacy Lill, I asked her what we were going to do to kick off her 60th birthday month, and as she is always charitably minded, she suggested we start by supporting her friend, Michele Abrams  and  Team ICFC – In Concert for Cancer.

Stacy’s friend, Michele Abrams is the founder and CEO and as she shared in her story cancer has affected all of our lives, so what better way to raise awareness, funds, and support than through music.  As written on their web page:

Concert Programs

We believe in the power of music! Music unites us. Music heals us. Music lifts our spirits.
Since 2011 we have presented world-class benefit concerts with cancer fighting communities in San Diego, Seattle,
Los Angeles, and Portland.

We proudly present the world’s most accomplished and exciting musicians. Our uplifting shows create a sense of community amongst supporters and performers, all united in the effort to fight this disease that touches us all.

So, on Monday, November 7, a night Jazz Alley is usually dark, we sang and danced along with music legends including, The Ides of March featuring Jim Peterik, Mark Farner (formerly of Grand Fund Railroad), and Mindi Abair.

Listening to Special Guest, Ray Parker Jr. jam to songs of our youth including, I’m in love with the other woman, You Can’t Change That and of course Ghost Busters had me in concert for life.  I will definitely continue to support this foundation as it is built on the power of music and love!

Bravo Michele and team.

With the ever so talented Ray Parker Jr.,  Stacy Lil, Michele Abrams, Founder


It is Happening Now!


is happening now!

It is precisely eleven minutes past the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year and it is official: the fifth season of the year has begun!

Carnival in Cologne is on!

This is one of the largest, if not THE largest festivals in Europe. It is bright, colorful, and seriously happy. Yesterday, as I was driving around I couldn’t understand why so MANY people were out here and there and everywhere! I had completely forgotten that TODAY is the DAY. People come from all over Europe to celebrate. This is one of Europe’s biggest, best and oldest carnivals and I am telling you it is something to behold!

Over the years, centuries of certain traditions and customs have emerged, which hallmark the traditional Cologne Carnival, namely; the indoor festivities (sessions and balls) and, of course, the street carnival celebrated today, where especially here in town, there is a party on nearly every main street, in all the public squares and in every bar and pub. As I write this post, my window is slightly ajar and I can hear all the hoots, hollers, and flat-out happiness! The picture here is on the street where I live.

By tomorrow, the jubilation will have quieted down – I think– until after the Christmas season when things will start picking up again around New Year’s Day and be back in earnest when the so-called Weiberfastnacht (Shrove Thursday), arrives the Thursday before Rosenmontag (Carnival Monday).

But today, at this very minute and until the wee hours of the morning, merrymakers will be making merry. They will sing songs in the Cologne dialect and greet each other shouting out, “Kölle Alaaf!”, a Cologne phrase which can be translated as, “Cologne above all!” Hugging strangers, drinking too much firewater, being thankful for sunny weather, and wearing costumes. 

And you know, why not? Today of all days, everybody can as  Bobby McFerrin said, “Don’t worry, be happy!”

Kölle Alaaf!

Inspiring Journeys Boyer Children’s Clinic

As I sat in the illuminated room and prepared for the program honoring the 80 years of work for the Boyer Children’s Clinic, I was overwhelmed with emotion.

Overwhelmed at the service this program has provided serving early childhood therapy, medical support, and education not only for the children, but families of those born with developmental delays.

Overwhelmed by the stories, the patience, the fear, the love, the compassion, the exhaustion, the caring and hope for the future of parents and their offspring.

As a parent, even though my children are now adults, there is not a day that their well-being is not on the top of my priority list.  I worry that my children will continue to find genuine happiness, stay mentally and physically healthy, do-good work, give back, and leave whatever they touch for the better. I know first-hand how petrifying a diagnosis can be recalling when my nephew was born with heterotaxy syndrome and my sister details our family journey in her award-winning book, Incompatible with Nature.  My sister was alone in Germany and nearly forty years ago, she did not have the resources or connections to help her navigate light at the end of a very dark tunnel.  Fortunately, my nephew is healthy and prospering, but when I think of the lack of support my sister had with his diagnosis, it still mystifies me her strength and determination to soldier on,

So, as I listened to the heart-warming stories that Boyer families shared of the early diagnosis and the intervention services that this program supports through its inspiring journeys, I asked myself how? I recall the exhaustion of parenting and recall wondering how as a working mom I could navigate it all.  As I watched the Boyer video presentation, I wondered how my dear life-long friend could, Kevin and his lovely wife, Karen who co-chaired the gala could be so gracious, kind, loving, patient and supportive of others while raising a now teenage daughter who is non-verbal?    How could the co-auctioneer, Matt Lorch the father of two, including a son with intellectual and physical disabilities radiate the joy despite the challenge of life in a wheelchair?  How could Boyer respond to a family of color with a Spanish speaking therapist, so that the entire family could participate and be a part of the progress and process?  I have several very close friends who have children born with disabilities. Honestly, I’m astounded by the number.  I thought of former Seahawk Running back Curt Warner, and as he shared in his book, The Warner Boys; Our Family’s Story of Autism and Hope.  As these children like mine enter adulthood, they face the same hopes and fears we as all parents have.

The answer to my overwhelmed feelings and my question of how became evident by The Boyer Clinic’s mission of providing hope, empowering families and changing lives.  We are fortunate to have this cornerstone of our community in our back yard.  Their commitment is unwavering in helping families access technology, translators, tools, and therapy free of charge.

It was a night to celebrate great friends making a difference for our community.  It does take a village and I’m honored to be a part of this one.