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Monday, April 20, 2015

A Necessary Break

Just a brief update to let you dear readers know I'm still here, just taking some time off the internet for awhile.

I'll be back after some much needed self-care and time re-evaluating the direction of this blog and my business goals.

Thanks for your patience and support of my writing!


Friday, April 3, 2015

On Loss, Love, and the Oldest Generation

Springtime always makes me think of Lilo. Last week I visited her grave for the first time since the funeral. I took her the first daffodills of Spring from our yard. 

I specifically think of her a lot at Easter-time. First, because she always spoiled the crap out of the girls with special Easter baskets and HUGE Easter bunnies. She would hide them somewhere in the yard and come knock on our door to tell the girls she talked to the Easter Bunny and he brought them something special!

I also think of her a lot because her birthday is in April.

She would have been 89 years old this year.

When she passed away last year I went through a surprisingly tough grieving process. I naively thought that you only experience such painful feelings of loss when a close member of your family dies. I was certainly wrong there.

I wasn't prepared for the flood of emotions that came with her death. And it took quite a few months to let those come and go.

I journaled and cried and talked to people and wrote Lilo "letters" and cried some more.

I had a hard time going down into the apartment for awhile, which ended up being necessary a few times to help Diana out with things. I remember the first time I was able to be in the apartment without feeling a lump in my throat. I put my hand on the couch and I looked at the living room and just let the memories and feelings come. It took a long time for me to be able to put the image of her on the floor after her stroke out of my mind. But I was reminded that I have too many happy memories with her to cling so hard to such a sad one.

I talked to the girls about how much I missed her. We bought a book that helped explain death in a way they could understand.

{Here's my affiliate link to When Dinosaurs Die ... I highly recommend it}

Not long after Lilo passed, Jesse and I had some serious talks about how our girls hadn't seen most of the oldest generation of our family since Lily was a baby. Sam hadn't even met any of her great-grandparents.

We decided pretty quickly that we were going to make it a priority this year for the girls to spend some time with GreatGram & GreatPa, Grandma Linza, and Grandma Bentley. And thus began the plans for our big Stateside Vacay of 2015...

I hate that it was the death of our Oma that prompted such a feeling of urgency to reconnect with our own family. But isn't that the way things are in life? You don't think about things like death until they happen. Or at least, that's my experience.

So that's a big reason we took such a long and thorough trip to the States this year. We drove a lot to make sure we could see everyone. We battled snowstorms and sleep-deprivation and sickness to make it a priority to get the girls acquainted with all their great-grandparents.

The smiles, hugs, and precious memories were so worth it. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

USA Vacay Throwback | Candlepin Bowling

photo circa 2011, at our first Red Sox game

Little known fact: though New York State and Massachusetts are neighbors, they have a surprising amount of quirky differences.

You would think that growing up 7 hours apart would mean J and I would pretty much get each other.

But my husband says things like "Oh crap there's a Statey" or "I need to find a bubbler" or "is it big ball bowling or little ball bowling?"

Say what? 

Early in our marriage I thought he was nuts. Or that he was just making up words to mess with me. I mean, for the love! He doesn't even have a Boston accent!

Come to find out, even though our states are right next to each other... we grew up a little different. And most earth-shatteringly of all, we were used to different kinds of bowling when we got married. In fact, he was used to a kind of bowling I'd never even heard of before!

And it wasn't until this past trip to the Cape that he finally took me to prove that he is not, in fact, making this up.

BEHOLD, I give you...

"Little Ball Bowling"... aka Candlepin Bowling. #photographicevidence

Apparently it really is a thing. I think I can rest in peace now knowing that we cleared this up. Thanks wikipedia.

We had such a great time. I think I might even like it even better than "Normal Bowling" (<-- my not so subtle way of reminding everyone that NY is better than Mass) 

It was especially cool that the girls could hold the balls so much easier. And I was able to rest in the fact that if they dropped one on their foot, it probably wouldn't lead to an ER visit. Unlike Normal Bowling, where I have mini-mom-heart-attacks every time it's their turn. 

So the moral of the story is Candlepin Bowling is not made up and it's really fun!

If you're in New England and you want to try something different, search for a lane near you!

Definitely a fun family adventure.

Also, for the record: I beat My Love at his own game. Just sayin ;-) 

Friday, March 13, 2015

So Bring Me Some Figgy Ideas

Sometimes, when you haven't been blogging for awhile and you're trying to get back on the horse, you feel like you need to have something profound to say at first. But nothing is coming to me so...

We're going to talk about figs today. 

Because I am so over how much junk food I LOVED eating on our Stateside vacay and I'm so happy to be back in Germany where good quality food is really cheap!

And also because I bought some and realized I didn't have a blessed idea what to do with them.

So instead of spending my time wisely thinking of something meaningful to write for you, or trying to figure out how to recap our vacation adventures, I spent over an hour on the internet learning everything I could ever want to know about this strange little fruit that I'd never eaten before.

And I decided to be nice and share that info with YOU! You're welcome ;-)

PS thank God for Pinterest.

So I've never eaten a fresh fig before. I will blame it on the fact that I don't really care for fig newtons. But also because I just never ate them and therefore don't know what to do with them... so it's remained an "exotic" fruit that has been on my "to-try" list. Until now.

Quick punny exchange between My Love and I that morning:
me: "I bought fresh figs for the first time today!"
J: "Figures."

ha. ha. he's so hilarious ;-)

You can eat figs fresh and whole (skin and all), as a topping for oatmeal or yogurt, as a smoothie ingredient, sliced and topped with a favorite cheese and some balsamic dressing, baked with honey as a dessert topping, and added to your favorite fruit salad or green salad.

Or you can wrap them in bacon or prosciutto and GRILL THEM! Yay for grilling season! 

First I just ate the figs with my favorite lunch of fresh bread, herbed goat cheese, and smoked salmon. And then we ate them in our morning yogurt with a drizzle of elderberry syrup on top. Very good. I wanted to try to blend them with maple syrup to pour over french toast or pancakes but we ran out ;-) So, next time!

Here are tons of fun facts and delicious recipes featuring figs: 

Some of them seem a little too fancy for my table, but since my girls loved our first experiments with them, I might go for it and see what happens!


The World's Healthiest Foods fact sheet

Fig Varieties 

Valley Fig Growers fun facts

Bacon, Melon, and Fig Salad You had me at bacon.

Pancakes with Calcium-Filled Fixins Love the idea of using figs and tahini as a maple syrup substitute!

Dark Chocolate Covered Figs  I need some of THIS in my life for SURE!

Coconut Fig Popcicles I think this would get me a billion gold stars with the girls.

Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing 

Butternut Squash and Fig Soup

Simple Figgy Focaccia

Marinated Fig Skewers with Prosciutto, Mozzarella, and Basil

Figs on a gorgeous Cheese Platter These pictures make me want to host a cheese and wine party even though I'm more of a pizza and beer girl ;-)

Fig, Beet, and Watermelon Salad with Caramelized Shallot Dressing 

Roasted Butternut Squash and Fig Salad

Fig and Rosemary Chicken Pizza  Is it too early to start grilling pizza every other day? Nomnom

Oven-Roasted Fruit with Ricotta-Vanilla Cream This is my kind of easy dessert!

Free-Form Fig Tart

Fig Chips  I don't usually have luck with these types of "turn fresh food into chips" recipes but they are so pretty and would be so great in the girls' lunchbox!

Grilled Fig and Cheese  Oh my.

Salted Honey and Fig Cheesecake  I wonder if I can make this one without a food processor? And I'd have to call it a "cream cake" or something cause J would cry if I called a faux-cheesecake a cheesecake (his favorite.)

Avocado, Gorgonzola, and Fig Baguette Awesome easy dinner idea!

Glad to have me back? Make sure you follow me on Pinterest so you always know what randomness I'm researching today! 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday | Say CHEESE

Kids Say the Darndest Things, Vacation Edition


One thing I love about Stateside vacations is that our extended family gets to hear the girls' silliness firsthand... 

Mom: "I think my cough is getting worse."
Lily: "It's worser, not worse."

Lily: (runs our into the living room with a light-up wand) "Is anybody in danger?"

Sam: "The kitty is a *little bit* afraid of me." (Understatement of the year!)

When Aunt MaryAnne put the candles on the cake Lily said "Oh Daddy! You're turning the same age as ME?" (5 candles)

Sammy: "Hey has anyone seen the pink earrings? I can't find them!"
Me: "You mean the ones on your ears?"
Sam: "Look Mom, they put cinnamon on the road!" (on our walk around the icy streets of the neighborhood here on the Cape... the discovery that sand on the road is NOT cinnamon.)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Yoga Progress Shots | An Exciting Journey

Happy World Yoga Day everyone!

I didn't do anything to contribute to the project this year (heck, I probably won't even get around to doing yoga at all today ha) but I did want to highlight my yoga journey as of now.

Watching the progress of just six months has got me so pumped to see where my practice takes me in the next few years!

I haven't really participated in any yoga challenges (like on instagram) but I was definitely inspired by them to start taking photos of my progress.

It's exciting to watch myself grow!

One huge thing that yoga is teaching me is patience with myself.

It's humbling to realize that you can do something one day but not the next. Or that you can do a really deep stretch on one side of your body but not the other.

And you just have to accept and listen to what your body is telling you. I also have to listen to myself as I work on challenging poses. There are some shots I have taken that don't really show any progress at all in six months, and that's okay! It's all part of the journey!

Those lessons learned on the mat help ground me in the rest of my life, too. So three cheers for YOGA!

Downward Dog: I have been doing focused work on opening up my shoulders. And I'm noticing increased leg flexibility, too (see how my heels are almost on the ground now.)

Forward Fold: Not bad for a gal who couldn't touch her toes in high school! This pose has become really therapeutic and helpful as a counter stretch to all the work I've been doing to open up my back and shoulders for backbends.

Half Moon: It might not look like much progress going on here, but I can usually take my supporting hand and hold my ankle now... this requires a LOT of balance. Check out the long-term super awesome versions of this pose!

Crow Pose: Yeah man! I didn't think I'd EVER fly crow and I definitely didn't think I'd be able to do it within six months. This is one of those things you chip away at and once you fly on the mat, you feel like there's nothing you can't do if you set your mind to it! At least, that's how I felt ;-)

Wheel Pose: Significant growth here. I'm really proud of this because it can be a potentially difficult, even dangerous pose for someone with previous back injury. But with wise instruction from my yoga teachers at Grace Studio, I have been able to work into it carefully and mindfully. And now look where I am! My creaky old back that's been bothering me since high school is getting stronger and longer and bendier. Which I'm sure is a word.

And new (to me!) this year - Headstands! I was introduced to inversions at Grace Studio's summer intensives and I have to say I'm hooked. (Here are Laura's top 5 reasons to do a headstand every day, in case you're curious.)
I'm working on tripod (left) and forearm (right) and neither are very strong yet... which is why I do forearm headstands with a wall behind me for now. There is something super fun and empowering about being upside down.
So fellow yogis... what are you proud of this year? And even if you don't do yoga... whatever you do (and I hope you do something) take progress shots, or write down your run times or your weight training or how far you can walk or swim or bike (with the dates) so you can look back next year and say WOW I'm totally killing it!
Get up and move. And be proud of yourself when you do!