March 31, 2015


Some days, I get really lucky and catch an awesome article on the news while running errands in my car. Last week, I heard this one about three spices in Zanzibar and thought wow! I never knew that about any of them! So, I feel inspired as part one of blog changes, to post weekly about spices or trees or something else cool about nature that just makes you smile and want to stay in your car until you hear the whole thing! Except, in this case, read the whole post because you are learning something so neat and new.

So, I'm starting with vanilla. I knew it was an orchid, and the most lucrative one at that, but did you know it only blooms a flower once a year! If the bloom hasn't been touched by noon, it dies and then no vanilla pods can emerge! So, hand pollination is required. The word vanilla is derived from the Spanish word vaina which means little pod.

Once the pod emerges, it is not ready to harvest for six months! Each pod ripens at its own time, requiring a daily harvest. Each pod must be picked by hand just as it begins to split at the end to ensure the best flavor and commercial value. Thus the reason vanilla is the second most expensive spice at the store. Wow. I just had no idea how labor intensive it was, and now I understand the price tag.

In any recipe that calls for vanilla, I almost always double the amount required. I love it! I even add it to my pancakes made from scratch. Next week, I'll let you in on another spice I use in everything! How about you all? Do you use extra vanilla, or stick the amounts listed in recipes?

March 27, 2015

Friday I'm in Love

I'm so thankful the weekend is here! It's been a long week with training and meetings and I'm ready for the weekend. I haven't been able to go to sleep easily lately, all emotional and freaked out by the Germanwings flight and other tragic news. Hoping I can tonight.

We've started a little routine/tradition at home with homemade pizzas and a movie on Friday night, and I'm honestly so looking forward to it. Tuesdays have become Taco Tuesdays. It makes planning dinners a little easier for the week, and the kids enjoy the routine. Anyone else have a weekly tradition?

This week, we had some resiliency training in our office. We watched this TED talk on stress, and you must watch this one. Really, you must! Just changing the way you view stress can save your life. I was going to write up a whole post on the article, but didn't find the time. Here are a bunch more links you might enjoy:

March 14, 2015

DIY Spring Wall Art

Well, I've unintentionally created a Series of blog posts having to do with DIY Wall art. It all started with Christmas nutcrackers, then Valentines Day hearts, now, a tree branch with birds. Only, for this spring wall art, I didn't create a stencil. I just free hand painted the branches/leaves/birds while looking at a picture.

This one is my favorite so far. I love blues and greens and flowers all over my living room right now. Just seems so calm and happy. Since I already have the 3 nail holes, I just keep clipping on new boards that I paint. I bought the wooden boards here in Germany at a store called Obi. Basically the same as a Home Depot. Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!

March 10, 2015

Laughter, Fresh Air, and Good Food

Sunday was my birthday. 35. AGH! I don't know why, but I was not so happy to turn 35 at first. Just seems so "old" and adult like.  Then I realized I'm living some of the best years right now! These are the days! And I quickly got over the grumpiness of aging. Everyone at work asked me "how young are you today".  My answer?  I'm 35 years young.

My sister Tiff sent me an e-mail wishing me a day full of laughter, fresh air, and good food. I hadn't thought about it before, but honestly, what more could you want? And you know what? That is exactly what I had Sunday.

My family, they are the best. I got to sleep in and then come down to Frank making crepes and a table full of wrapped presents and flowers. I love crepes, especially the type made just for me. And then for lunch? We headed outside to a wilderness park for fresh air on our first springlike blue skied day of the year. Followed by some climbing and then another stroll around a pond in the evening sunshine while my kids ran around collecting crocus flowers. Lily randomly blurted out "Happy Birthdays" all day to me, Cooper showered me in extra hugs, and we all had a good laugh at this fat sheep and from tickles from goat tongues. Hoping now for a year full of laughter, fresh air, and good food.

March 6, 2015


Hey everyone! Today I am excited to announce that I am a guest blogger over at Cake&Whiskey! I am so thrilled. Cake&Whiskey is an awesome new magazine.  You can find out more about the magazine, blog and website here.

You can check out my first post here on five ways to stay active even in the winter. Winter is close to an end, I promise. Only a few more weeks till Spring!

Also, I know I haven't been posting much to the blog. Trying to figure out what to do with my current blog. I love to write, and enjoy having the diary of trips and moments with my kids etc, but not sure if I should keep the current format and name or change it etc. So, while I figure all that out, please, I welcome comments on what you like or dislike about the current blog. What posts are your favorite? Maybe I need to put a survey on here to solicit some responses...