Thursday, July 31, 2014

Friday Favorites

Welcome to Friday Favorites! Today I am sharing only one favorite from this week (actually from the weekend) because as they say in Steal Magnolias, "There's a story there." All the fun is taking place thanks to the link up from AndreaErika, and Narci

Here's my story:

What's in a name? Chances are you might be reading my name incorrectly. 

When I was a kid I would explain it like this "Car rhymes with Mar" and you put "in (-en) at the end". Then later on in college a fella' at a party said "OH Mar-en. Like the fish Marlin but the "L" swam away." Yeah. That's it. Whatever works for you, Dude. 

I used to hate when people mispronounced my name or gave me nickname to avoid saying my name incorrectly. But then I wonder if my Great Great Grandmother had the same issues? 
 My Great Great Grandmother raised 14 kids on this Danish farm. 

When I was growing up I was always hopeful searching the shop shelves that I would stumble across a plastic cup, toothbrush, pencil, or key-chain with my name. It took me moving to Europe to finally find a ceramic cup with "Maren" painted on the outside. You better believe at 29 years old I was still a tickled 7 year old back in that knick-knack shop from years ago.  
Last weekend when Husband and I were visiting the monastery in Ettal, Germany I ran across my name again! This time there was a German translation of the name "Maren" printed on a greeting card. It's not the best quality but I couldn't resist and bought it!

Here's a German translated excerpt:
 "She has a good imagination, 
can delegate well and 
loves socializing."

The Danish translation is:
"of the sea."

I used two coordinating pieces of scrapbook paper to matte the card and added it into a picture frame I had on hand. Voila! A personalized piece of artwork to hang over my desk. I love the way it turned out!

Okay, I lied. I said I was only sharing one favorite today but since we are here... 
On a recent shopping adventure I found these jars cheap, cheap, cheap. I just fell in love with the polka dot lids and the colors...simply perfect! It's a good thing these were the last three jars or I might have gone over board and bought more.  I have no idea what I am going to put inside but I sure am enjoying looking at them (even empty) on my counter. 
I hope everyone has a blessed weekend. Enjoy every second! Don't forget the Back to School Giveaway is ending in just hours from now! See the details here.

Make Life Beautiful,

Scrap-booking Memories of Travel

Guys... I have been so anxious to share with you an exciting project that took place awhile back. My friend Kate with Cut and Tear held a Travel Memories Scrapbooking Workshop. 
Kate told me all I needed to attend the workshop were some old travel books, whatever scrapbooking stuff I might have on hand, and my memories. She was very specific to tell me not to purchase ANYTHING! So similar to an Easter egg hunt, I went around the house digging in every drawer, old purse, and jacket pocket to gather all sorts of memorabilia, ticket stubs, brochures, and receipts from the special memories I have made over the past few years. 

Now I am turning over Mainly Maren to a guest writer for the very first time! Today, Kate is joining us to share about the scrapbooking workshop she hosted and hopefully a tip or two for you to use!

Here is Kate with Cut and Tear:
A few months ago, I led  a workshop on experimental scrap-booking. Being an Art Teacher, I am used to experimenting. As my boyfriend puts it, I just love a creative mess (judge for yourself):
Since I also love preserving memories, I am naturally inclined to create scrapbooks or memory-books, as I prefer to call them. What I do not like, is spending money on fancy scrapbooking supplies and therefore my books look somewhat different than the stuff you usually encounter on craft blogs. I believe, that a very few supplies and a little bit of creative thinking can get you a long way. I also believe that up-cycling is the way forward!  Maren seemed to share my opinion and asked me for few tips. 

Here they are…
>Don’t buy expensive notebooks, save some books from the scrapheap instead (e.g. out-of-date guidebooks). You can glue several pages together to make them sturdier and more able to cope with painting, punching or stitching into them…
Create your own funky accessories by punching shapes/tags or cutting shapes out of the harder pages of the book. They will match perfectly  with the rest and will cost you nothing. Even with only two “punchers,” (and I am sure you have more than that) the possibilities are endless, check it out:… 
>Make your own pockets/envelopes. Tear out some single pages from the book and stamp, print or draw over them. You can even doodle or create simple repeat patterns in black marker, it will all look fab when you fold the page into simple envelope and stick it back into the book.

>Print with a doily and an ink pad.
1. Hold the paper doily firmly down (as a stencil) and generously “stamp” with the ink pad over it. Make sure the doily doesn’t move (it would smudge your design). 
2. Slowly remove the doily and you will be left with a lacy pattern.
3. Now quickly cover the inked side of the doily with a piece of paper and rub gently over it with your fingers. Take the paper off and you will be left with  a delicate print.

Good luck with your own designs! I am always happy to see your creations, so drop me a line ! 

I had so much fun at the workshop that I came home and continued scrapbooking well into the night. I could not stop. I finally finished gluing every memory I had somewhere around 1:30 in the morning! 
Instead of using a travel book I opted for my 1/2 finished calendar/planner from 2013. 

Kate let me in on another secret trick of hers; take the travel book with you on your trips! She packs her travel memory book, a small pair of scissors, and a glue stick on every vacation. Each night she glues inside whatever memory happened that day; museum tickets, subway card, a dinner receipt. 
Here you can read my journal entry from 2013 mixed with memories from our 2014 Italy trip.

Do you live in Munich? If so, you can attend a workshop with Kate. Be sure and check out her facebook page. She is hosting a workshop this week inside the Hands Gallery

Also, don't forget to enter Mainly Maren's giveaway with Raw Lux Gems this week! You can see the giveaway details here.

Make Memories Beautiful,

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Recipe Club: Banana Pudding Trifle

I have a confession. Husband and I are having a low key cooking week. We are eating fresh vegetables, fruits, and tapas style nearly every night this week. Our goal is to keep it simple and easy. 

So... today I am sharing with you a recipe that I posted earlier this month. (is that terribly lame? bleh.) However, it is one of my favorite summer dessert recipes and now you get a second chance to see what goodness can come of Banana Pudding Trifle! 

When a girl born and raised in the South is uprooted and moved across the ocean, memories of home are hard to come by. Fade blue jeans, sweet ice tea, and the shade of a Pecan Tree can seem distant, but a smooth taste of Banana Pudding Trifle can bring back what seems so far away.
Banana Pudding Trifle has to be one of my very first "pins" on Pinterest. I'm not sure how I stumbled upon this recipe several years ago, but ever since then, reminiscent of the South, it has become a summer staple in my house. 

When the homesick blues kick in, what could be better than made-from-scratch banana pudding? The original recipe calls for 5 ripe bananas. I used three larger bananas and it was plenty. Here is my rendition of this delicious treat!
On medium-low (4), whisk together 3 cups of milk, 3 large eggs, 3/4 cup of sugar, and 1/3 cup of flour. 
Whisk constantly for 20 minutes or until the mixture thickens. It is really important the mixture thickens during this step or the pudding will not reach a desired consistency. Be patient...
After the mixture has thickened, remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract. I wanted a richer flavor so I used 3 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.
Stir until the butter has melted and the vanilla has mixed into the pudding. Move the pudding into a chilled bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator for about half an hour.
While the pudding is chilling, cut up three bananas into 1/4 inch slices. Set aside until you come to the layering stage. 
The original recipe calls for canned whipped cream, but Husband has mastered homemade whipped cream. It is so easy he refuses to ever buy the canned whipped cream again! 
Husband poured a bottle of heavy whipping cream into the Kitchen Aid mixer. He whisked the heavy whipping cream along with 3 tablespoons of sugar on a medium speed for 10 minutes. Within minutes the liquid formed into soft fluffy peaks. 
After the pudding has chilled for 30 minutes, it is time to layer! I used short clear juice glasses as my serving dish. I thought jam jars would have been cute, but mine are in storage. Bummer... Anyways, I layered 1/3 with the pudding, then a layer of banana slices, and a few Nutter Butter Cookies. I have hoarded these Nutter Butter Cookies for this very occasion since flying out of The States in January! Unfortunately, I am unable to find Nutter Butter Cookies in Germany.
Over the bananas and cookies smooth on a second layer of pudding leaving about 1/4 of space left. Fill the remaining 1/4 space with the fresh whipped cream. 
Garnish the top of the whipped cream with an additional cookie, banana, and mint leaves. Cover and return to the refrigerator to chill for 2- 24 hours. When your guests arrive, the dessert is ready and waiting!
North, South, Europe, or anywhere on Earth this recipe will not disappoint. It is a bit more intensive than preparing the common boxed pudding packs, but if you are wanting a homemade pudding, this is for you! 

Today I am linking this recipe up with Momfessionals Recipe Club!

Also, don't forget to check out Mainly Maren's Back to School Giveaway! You can view the details here.

Can't Believe it is Almost August,

Ettal, Germany: Monk's Beer and Cheese

This past weekend Husband and I had planned for the second time to visit Berchtesgarten. But...for the second time, we changed our plans not feeling up to the near 3 hour drive. Instead we found ourselves in the teeny tiny town of Ettal, Germany.
Nestled in the foothills of the Alps, somewhere between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Linderhof Palace, you might pass through the town of Ettal without even realizing it. There is not even a stop light! Husband and I only noticed Ettal on last trip to Linderhof Palace after seeing a tour bus pull over. (Husband and I have a thing about following tour buses unintentionally and finding cool spots.)

Curious as to why a tour bus pulled over in this bump in the road, Husband and I drove back to the Alps on Saturday to find out what it is Ettal, Germany had to offer. Which is exactly how we found Ettal Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery, founded in 1309. 
Another breathtaking baroque abbey in a serene setting, it was the perfect way to spend a quiet Saturday morning. We walked around and looked at the paintings and elaborate alters. There is something mind opening about seeing places of faith that existed long before Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Every time I am reminded that this life is much bigger than me.
We spent time sight seeing on the monastery's grounds. The Ettal monastery is still in operation to this day. Guys, I had my head down coming out of the abbey and nearly took out a monk. Only me...  Don't you just love this reflection bench? (on the right)
On the property there is a pretty big garden with greenhouses, a school, housing, and in true monastery fashion...a brewery. Ettaler Kloster-Beer is brewed right here on sight. In fact, we are pretty sure we talked to the head brew master and monk in charge. They didn't seem to think it was a big deal that Husband and I were wondering around their loading dock. Husband was in Heaven!
Right next door to the monastery, is a cheese maker and shop. What do you call making cheese anyways? This shop is called Schaukäserei Ammergauer Alpen. The cheese is sampled and sold on the top floor. Then all around the shop are glass windows looking down onto the ground level where the cheese is made. Out front you can see the milk holding tank and then of course, the milk source, the cows!
Last week when I mentioned I wanted to start a Living Internationally series, Megan asked about buying cheese. Well... Megan here is the cheese! From the dairy cows outside in the fields, to the big vat of curdling milk, to wheels of cheese stored and aged. Ammergauer Alpen also sells fresh milk, butter, and yogurt. I bought a strawberry yogurt to eat on the spot. It was the creamiest yogurt I have ever tasted. We also bought a wedge of beer cheese and herbed cheese to take home!
After a nice Bavarian lunch outside on a patio, Husband and I headed out of Ettal. We drove another 20 kilometers deeper into the foothills of the Alps until we ended up at the Weiskirche
This oval white church (hence the name!) is pretty well known among tourists. In between, Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Füssen, I'm surprised Husband and I did not visit during our first Germany visit in 2010. 
Husband and I had a fun day getting out of the "city". It was nice to see some of the Bavarian countryside and enjoy a slower life pace. Driving through the Alps never gets old. Being outside with the traditional homes, rolling hills, and mountain backdrops relaxes me and I feel "refreshed". 

Rain in the distance. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Traditional Bavarian styled home.

Does your family enjoy getting out and exploring new areas?

Don't forget to enter the Back to School Giveaway! You can find all the details here.

Make Saturday Drives Beautiful,

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Favorite Things: July

Happy Monday! I am so excited to join in on all the fun today with Momfessionals and the link up "My Favorite Things"! Who doesn't love sharing about their favorite things?
Auf gehts! Let's go!

Eins: French Coffee Press
Is it early in the morning where you are? Do you have a cup of coffee in your hand? Husband and I do not own a fancy cappuccino machine, an espresso pod coffee maker, or even the classic 12-cup coffee pot and I am, completely fine, with that. For a while now, I have been wanting to share with you my love for a French Coffee Press. What better day than today? Husband bought this for me for my 29th birthday last year and it is the perfect size for just us two. I'll explain more in the next photo!

Zwei: Fresh Coffee Grounds
To go along with our French Coffee Press, Husband received an electric coffee grinder for Christmas. I'm not too sure what is better than the smell of freshly ground coffee grinds coming out of the kitchen early in the morning. We store a variety of different beans in our freezer; Eilles, Illy, Starbucks, but Husband's favorite is a small local roaster out of Landsberg am Lech, Grandoro Gourmet Kaffee.  We have become quite spoiled with our coffee choices in Germany and with the neighboring Italians and French. 

Drei: Mix It! Dishes
I've mentioned these dishes before and you've probably seen them featured in pictures...but I just can't get enough of the colors! They are sold in Butler's which is a store out of the UK that is similar to Pier 1 in The States. The dishes start at 1,99 Euros and can be mix-matched. I bought them in cherry red, cobalt blue, green apple, turquoise, canary yellow, and classic orange. 
Another favorite of mine, but definitely not in the $10 range, is this table quilt my talented Aunt Terri made for Husband and my engagement. It is a breakfast quilt made with retro inspired material. She matched my style perfectly and I love it. It just makes the mornings so cheerful!

Vier: Cupcake Pot Holders
My mom gave me these adorable handmade cupcake potholders this past Christmas. Not only do I love that they are colorful cupcakes but also that my mom supported a local artist. Good job, Mom! My mom found them at a local church craft fair and I sadly do not know the creator's name. If anyone in the McKinney area happens to recognize these please let me know so I can give a reference! 

Fünf: Raw Lux Gems
Speaking of supporting local handmade artists, one of my favorite designers here in Munich is April. She is a transplanted California girl who sells her jewelry at local markets and in her successful Etsy shop: Raw Lux Gems. This is a picture of a pair of Raw Lux Gems' handmade silver wire wrapped earrings with aqua blue crystal pennants. These earrings are one of my favorite things because they are classy but with a fun contemporary twist. I'm talking about the twisted silver wrapped wire. Isn't it cute!?

Which brings me to Mainly Maren's... 
This Back to School Giveaway is open to teachers, administrators, moms shrieking with excitement that school is back on, moms shedding tears that their kids are going back into the classrooms, and/or anyone who ever stepped foot inside a welcomed to join in this giveaway!  

Included in the giveaway are the gorgeous pair of aqua blue silver wire wrapped earrings from Raw Lux Gems, a handmade trio of cork boards made by your's truly (me!) perfect for posting reminders in any classroom/office, and a package of 15 colorful fine tip pens from the German company Stabilo
How much fun would it be to write all those important dates in your school or family planner using these bright cheerful colors? I currently use a cobalt blue and coral marker in my daily journal. These pens are fine tip which I love because my hand has better control over a ball point. I'm secretly, or not so secretly to those who know me quite well, obsessed with handwriting. My business cards are even designed in my handwriting! (Thanks Margo!)

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Have a Fantastic Week Folks,