Monday, June 30, 2014

Made It Monday: Cherry Almond Cookies

Just as quick as Christmas passed, Easter flew by and now here we are gearing up for American Independence Day. Husband and I are still unsure what our plans will consist of considering it is a normal work day over here in Germany. 

Celebrating America in Front of the U.S. Embassy with a Dunkin' Donuts Coffee <3

While looking through some old photos from last summer, I ran across something delicious I never shared with you! Remember Christmas 2012 when I gave Husband homemade cookies for an entire year? Each month I baked him a new a different batch of cookies that coordinated with the time of year. Well last July I baked and tried for the very first time Cherry Almond Cookies!

I found this recipe at my aunt's house back in 2011 and have adapted it to better suit my obsession for almond extract. Who hoards almond extract while living abroad? This girl.

Cherry Almond Cookies are commonly found around Christmas but with these babies being packed full of cherries....I think they are the perfect summertime cookie!

Looking pretty in pink. I thought this dough looked delicious in the raw. Kind of like ice cream even? You can see how packed full of cherries this cookie dough actually is with their beautiful red colors showing through. 

I teach baking in English on Fridays with 3-6 year olds and I truly believe you have to have your heart in baking to be successful in your creations. When my heart isn't in it, almost always there is a problem. Things burn....the dough isn't right....etc. A little love in baking goes a long way. 

While the Cherry Almond Cookies cooled, I made a batch of icing. I forgot to put this on the recipe card but I added 1/2 tsp of almond extract in with the milk. Like I said... I'm obsessed. 

I spread the icing over the tops of the cookies. Then of course I topped it off with another cherry. There's gotta be a cherry on top, right?! 

How cute would these Cherry Almond Cookies look set out at a Fourth of July celebration? There is just something about a cherry on top that makes these cookies look oh-so-summer. 

Since Husband and I will not be with my family at the lake this year, we most likely will end up celebrating in a traditional Bavarian beer garden. The Americans (and some British friends, haha!) living in Munich set up a get together every July 4th. Last year I spotted plenty of patriotic red, white, and blue wandering around the cobbled stoned streets of Munich. Perhaps I will spend a night this week whipping up a batch of these delicious treats to share!

Do you have a particular dish you make in honor of American Independence Day?

How is your family celebrating the Fourth of July?

P.S. I may or may not have listened to American patriotic music during the creation of this post. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What a Mighty Good Man

The way to a man's Maren's heart is through her stomach. Hope you're not hungry. This entire post is dedicated to food and the man behind it all. 

Husband and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary yesterday! Not wanting to be too sappy this year, I've decided to keep things light and share with you something I love about my man. 
He. Can. Cook. Like better than me. As in maybe he should get to choose how the kitchen is decorated because that is where he spends nearly every night of the week. 

Husband is gifted and talented when it comes to picking out compatible vegetables, spices, herbs, and anything else that might be tasty when mixed together. Most of the ingredients Husband uses are fresh, seasonal, and rarely frozen or canned. 

This is Husband cooking this past Saturday night. We are to the point now where we will choose to eat in because the food is better than out at some of the restaurants. You can see how focused he is at turning his stir fry.

Most of Husband's meals are not pre-planned but rather a concoction of whatever is hanging out in our refrigerator or what items are about to spoil. 

Another popular dish in our house is roasted chicken. Instead of purchasing chicken breasts, we purchase the whole chicken because it is cheaper that way! Can you believe more meat is cheaper than the "convenient" pre-cut chicken breasts? Above, Husband added to the dutch oven apple slices, carrots, onions and red bell peppers.

This is a picture of Husband cooking nearly two years ago when we were living in our first house in Germany. (You might have noticed the kitchen is not ours) We were newly weds back then!

You could say that I am better at other things like...
Dressing Up Our Dog in Husband's Shirts

Hugging Giant Ice Cream Cones in Brussels

Hugging Giant Ice Cream Cones in Rome I am starting to get off topic. Like I said, the man can cook! In our house he is the chef and I am the baker. It is one of the things that makes this marriage extra yummy delicious finger licking so amazing. We get the best of both worlds; savory and sweet!

Remember this healthy twist on traditional zucchini bread? It really has been too long since I last baked my Honey Almond Zucchini Carrot Bread! I also have plans to whip up another batch of those Key Lime Cupcakes I was raving about last summer. I took these cupcakes to the teacher's lounge on the last day of school and they were a hit!

Sometime next week I will share with you these cherry beauties. The cherries make this the perfect summertime recipe and just in time for the Fourth of July! Make sure and check back for the details.

So Husband, you keep on being the savory and I'll keep on being the sweet. I appreciate all you do for us and I will always be happy to pour you a cold one while you cook. Happy 2nd Anniversary, Babe!

A June Bride,
P.S. Congrats to Deanne on winning the Mainly Maren Giveaway with Cut and Tear! (check out her Etsy shop!) I will put your new retro swimmer girls in the mail! Thanks to everyone who participated in our giveaway, you guys rock!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Create a Memory Book: Baby's First Year

On a clear day, you can see the German Alps from our flat. Husband and I just had a week off of work for Pentecost and we spent Friday touring a palace older than Mount Vernon. Pretty soon we are taking a trip to Berlin and I'm in the middle of planning our second visit to see family in Denmark. I don't think it has ever reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit and we have all four seasons. I buy pumpkins off of farmer's tractors and our favorite wines are family grown just across the border. Oh yeah...and Germany has the best soccer team in the world! (we'll see soon enough, right?!) 

But... even among all of the perks about living abroad there are also some hard times.

Like...I missed my grandpa's 80th birthday celebration, I have never met my nephew, and this weekend my mom went to my best friend's baby shower without me. Ouch. Maybe I shouldn't be listening to Jason Boland during this writing session...wowza. Things just took a deep turn. 

Anyways, I told you guys a few weeks ago that I was working on a big project. After getting together with some of my artist friends I suddenly felt like I may have made this project out to be bigger than it actually is...but...the project was big for me so I am still calling it a big project. (big as in I finished it!)

I made a "Baby's First Year" memory book for my best friend Kim. Who's baby shower my mom attended. Without me. Bummer. Dibs on hosting Baby Shower #2! 

I hadn't scrap-booked in nearly five years. I'm still not sure what brought on the sudden urge to do it again...except nothing on her registry seemed to shout out at me. Hopefully someone bought her that diaper genie...anyone? To be honest, I wanted to give something that was from the heart. Cue the cheesey music.

Inside the memory book, I didn't want the pages just to be a standard scrapbook. I wanted the book to act as a place to hold memories. On each spread I left space for Kim to write down learning developments, funny stories, and just the little things that as a mom she would want to look back and reminisce.

As a new mom, I am sure time is precious. I can imagine it would be difficult to find time to create a scrapbook. This project was designed in order to make things easier on her in preserving those moments that flash by in the blink of an eye. 

Each monthly spread has room for 2-3 photos, space for recording memories, and a tracker of Baby Declan's age. My personal favorite monthly spread is June. (see above) I just love the bright colors and the flamingo reminds me of Baby Declan's grandmother. 

Living in Germany, I had the hardest time finding standard scrapbook albums common in the United States. Most albums I found in stores were with the extra large blank pages where you glue in your certificates and other mementos. I wanted an album that would fit 8.5"X11" pages. After searching on and, I was not willing to pay the outrageous costs and internationally shipping fees for albums that were "Eh..."

So... I settled on making an album using quilter's padding and a cut of fabric. I hadn't made one of these in nearly 15 years! At my local department store I found the cutest fabric in bright colored lions. I thought the material was perfect for Declan's lion themed nursery! I covered a binder in the padding, wrapped the fabric around, and placed felt sheets inside to create a clean look. 
Attending a Baby Shower with Skype!

Even though I was not able to physically be present at the baby shower, my friends Skyped me in at 10 p.m. It was a bit surreal sitting on the other side of a computer screen watching my best friends, my mom, and others shower Kim with wonderful things to help her care for Baby Declan. No matter which way, in the flesh or digital, it was fun to be a part of Kim's special day. Can't wait to meet Declan! 

Don't forget to enter Mainly Maren's Summer Giveaway!

My friend Kate over at Cut and Tear (check out her Etsy shop here) has joined up with Mainly Maren to kick off summer with a colorful splash! 
Up for grabs is a set of 5 extra-long retro inspired postcards ready to send warm summer wishes to your closest beach buddies.

There are Two Ways to Enter:
1. "Like" our page on Facebook (button at top)
2. Become a Mainly Maren follower

The winner will be announced on Mainly Maren tomorrow!

Looking for another baby shower gift idea? Check out Mainly Maren's Six Pack Gift Wrap post for re-purposing a drink carrier.

How did you preserve your baby's milestones? Did you use a traditional book, journal, or a digital scrapbook?

June Showers Bring July Babies,

Friday, June 13, 2014

Five on Friday

Husband and I sent his parents off this morning back to the good o' U.S. of A. It was sad to say goodbye and we both admitted to wanting to stow away in their luggage for the journey back home. We then devoured our sorrows in leftover chicken enchiladas, homemade salsa and a glass of sweet iced tea.

On the bright side...we had an amazing visit with Husband's parents. Today's Top Five on Friday is dedicated to the highlights of their trip, a birthday celebration and a cheerful find. Let's begin!

Early in the week Husband and I joined his parents on a river cruise down the Donau "Danube" River. We boarded the boat in Kelheim, Germany and rode an hour up the river through the Donau Gorge to Welterburg Monestery. The monestery was founded in 1050 and the monks still supervise the beer, Welterburg, brewing to this day. On a hot summer day, it was nice to sit outside in the beer garden courtyard surrounded by the monestery's cathedral and brewery.

Husband turned 30 this week! I spent most of his birthday in the kitchen whipping up a new recipe, an old time favorite, and a birthday tradition. The night before, I made the dough for Alton Brown's cinnamon rolls. At first, I thought the recipe was intense and "high maintenance" but after a few more steps the next morning, the rolls were in the oven. In the end, the rolls proved to be worth the little extra time. They were outstanding! I will definitely keep this recipe in my collection.

Husband's 30th birthday turned out to be a great day! It was full of a few surprises, some at home cooking, and a Bavarian twist. Look for the full blog post with all the details next week!


You probably already know about this Etsy artist... but I just fell in love with Katie Daisy's artwork this week! I know I'm probably a few years late in this news but wow. How did I not know about Katie Daisy before? I love her bright colors and positive messages. It is in my plan to purchase her "Wild Air" and "Choose Love" prints. Someday... "Wild Air" would be so cute in a vintage travel themed nursery. *cough cough*

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”

Today after Husband and I dropped his parents off at the airport, we decided to FINALLY stop by Schloss Schleißheim. Husband heard about this palace two years ago when his coworker recommended we "kill time" there. Like several palaces we have visited, Schleißheim was another attempt at copying Versailles. A big difference was... we were the ONLY ones there! Who knew on a Friday morning you can have an entire palace and gardens to yourself right outside of Munich? (well minus the gallery lady who followed us between the rooms)

Don't forget to enter Mainly Maren's Summer Giveaway!

My friend Kate over at Cut and Tear (check out her Etsy shop here) has joined up with Mainly Maren to kick off summer with a colorful splash! 
Up for grabs is a set of 5 extra-long retro inspired postcards ready to send warm summer wishes to your closest beach buddies.

There are Two Ways to Enter:
1. "Like" our page on Facebook (button at top)
2. Become a Mainly Maren follower

The winner will be announced on Mainly Maren Tuesday, June 17th. 

Happy Weekend,

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Day Trip to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Hello World... Greetings from the highest point in Germany! 
Husband and I were at it again visiting Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany for the sixth time. The ski resort town is just an hour away from Munich and is home to one of the few remaining American military bases. 
Every time Husband and I visit Garmisch-Partenkirchen we say the same thing "Why do we not come here more often?!" Last time I blogged about the mountain town nestled in the German Alps I talked about our visit to the historic Olympic Ski Jump arena. Back in 2012 we climbed to the top of the ski jump but during this visit...we went to the highest point in Garmisch-Partenkirchen Germany, the Zugspizte.
At the Highest Point in Germany

We started our journey in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and took an hour cog train ride up to the top of the Zugspitze. There we ate lunch at the top of Germany, surrounded by snow in June, with Husband's parents. The views were amazing and it was a fantastic way to kick off our vacation time.
Husband's Parents

After taking a gondola and cog train back down the mountainside, we all headed to the Partnach Gorge. A few months ago Husband and I drove three hours to visit the Breitachklamm gorge in Oberstdorf, Germany. We didn't know until Husband's parents came for a vacation that we had a gorge just an hour's drive from Munich!
Again, Husband and I both said "Why haven't we been here before?" The sound of rushing water, caves every few yards, and the peaceful setting made us plan another trip for mid July right there on the spot. Being outside in nature is such a welcomed changed from our every day hustle and bustle back in the city.
Husband and I celebrated our wedding engagement back in 2011 at Gasthof Fraundorfer in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Since then, it has been our "go-to" restaurant in Garmisch-Partenkirchen!
Visiting from Texas

We did not book a table ahead of time and ended up outside on their patio. At first I was a bit upset to not be inside with the typical Bavarian band and dark wood traditional setting, but the warm summer night proved to be a great atmosphere. 

Traditional Bavarian music was played outside and we were entertained by young boys preforming a slap dance in the cobble stoned streets. Every time we visit Fraundorfer the staff members have been welcoming of their visitors and the Germany dishes are delicious! 
Still in Love with Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Nearly three years after our engagement Husband and I are still enjoying visits to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. We are planning a camping trip back sometime in July! 

Don't forget to enter Mainly Maren's Summer Giveaway!

My friend Kate over at Cut and Tear (check out her Etsy shop here) has joined up with Mainly Maren to kick off summer with a colorful splash! 
Up for grabs is a set of 5 extra-long retro inspired postcards ready to send warm summer wishes to your closest beach buddies.

There are Two Ways to Enter:
1. "Like" our page on Facebook (button at top)
2. Become a Mainly Maren follower

The winner will be announced on Mainly Maren Tuesday, June 17th. 

From the Top of Germany,