A Very BIG Announcement

All of you know that I was taking a few classes this summer that literally took every ounce of my spare time. But that’s not all I was up to… I was also….trying to nurse myself back to health. That’s right, I’ve been sick. All day, all night kind of sick. For WEEKS! No…MONTHS! Can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t move, can’t function.

And the reason for this sickness???

 

baby 1

That’s right…TWO onesies…means double the fun is on the way for Toblerone and I!

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We’ve got a lot to plan for since our lives are completely going to change but we couldn’t be more excited to raise two babies! TWO, people!

Here goes nothing!

Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxo

Off To Italy We Go (Part Three)

The last and final installment of our vacation in Italy is FINALLY hot off the presses. Just a quick little update…I was taking a few classes during the summer and it took over my life! Hence why I haven’t said much since June! My apologies! I’m back at it though and have lined up quite a few fun posts!

Ok…on with it!

Our trip ended with a beautiful Easter Sunday Hike followed by a wonderful dinner of course. Luckily, the Easter bunny found me in Italy. I did send him a note to let him know so I’m glad he got that in time.

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But FIRST…the morning church bells that remind me of all things Europe. When we first moved to Germany, I used to be so annoyed by the early morning bell show that took place right outside my window (were were a road away from the church). But now, somehow, it brings me back really great memories of always knowing what time it was!

 

This was the front of our hotel. For some reason I just feel like decorations in Europe are really different. Granted, a majority of the products are with wood and felt but I just thought these big things outside the hotel were so cool! What weird shapes!

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Off we went on our hike (two VERY hungover people in tow…and no it wasn’t me!). I literally pushed Toblerone up the hill. Talk about a workout! But it was fun. We were walking towards a little restaurant that was a few miles up the mountain. And when I say up..I mean up.

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The views were beautiful and the little bits of snow on the ground reminded us quickly how high up we actually were.

We made it to the restaurant and I met a few friends, furry ones of course! Apparently goats love peanuts. Did you know that?

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On our way back down the mountain towards our hotel after a few drinks we stopped for some more drinking of course and snacks. My father-in-law is always providing the drinks for us. Only the best wine there is! (Note: The two most hungover people with no wine in their hands….:-) Brothers…)

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Back at the hotel we got ready for dinner. I put on my Easter dress and headed down to the dining room.

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Dinner was an array of amazing things. They had plate upon plate of meats, cheese, fruits, salad bar, etc. We also got a lamb or fish dinner and dessert but the main idea was a buffet! I do love me a good buffet!

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The weekend ended with a few drinks at the bar. My favorite? Amaretto liqueur with apple cider. The BEST. Try it sometime, you’ll thank me! Looking forward to going back to this hotel one day. We had such a great time!

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Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxo

The Insel Mainau: The Flowering Island

Along the beautiful Lake Constance you will find a beautiful little island. Complete with a castle (still owned) and incredibly beautiful gardens that take you to another place. It actually didn’t even feel like Germany. The water around the island is a really crystal blue and with the palm trees and vibrant colored flowers it almost makes you feel like you’re in another world!

Luckily it was a little adventure we got to take with Toblerone’s parents also. The castle is occupied at the moment so it’s not something that is opened to the public for tours with the exception of a small area they set up for a gift shop and a restaurant attached to the orchid greenhouse.

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It was a bit too early in spring for all the flowers but regardless, it was just a beautiful day. It started off with a bit of rain but as we arrived on the island we put our umbrellas down and walked the grounds guided by sunshine.

My absolute FAVORITE part of the entire island is the butterfly house. There are thousands of butterflies in this man-made jungle house. It was just incredible to see so many different types of butterflies happily flying around and a few different vegetarian birds to add to the atmosphere.

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Walking around the grounds we saw these massively large trees called Mammouth trees (also found in the states) which were planted in the late 1800’s and have grown to the giant masses they are today! Channeling my inner hippie I gave those big guys a squeeze.

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We walked around the castle, went inside the church which was decorated in beautiful floral arrangements,  and made our way around to a little farm..where of course I had to pet all the animals. These furry guys are used to all the people I think so they just made their way right over to me and waited for bite to eat!

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We ended the day with a little train watching which I thought was just adorable with all the German homes stacked around. Very cute! There are also great playgrounds  which would make for a fantastic place to bring the kids to run out a bit of energy.

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It was a really beautiful place and thankfully the weather held out for us! It was a perfect start to our vacation. More to come!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

 

 

A Family Recipe: Schwarzwalder Kirsch Torte (Black Forest Cake)

I’ve got the goods, lovelies! I cornered my mother-in-law and held her hostage until she showed me how to make the infamous family favorite, Schwarwalder Kirsch Torte (or as you may know it..Black Forest Cake.) Ok, so maybe I didn’t hold her hostage…and maybe she actually was excited to show me. Just maybe.

I’m ready to share the recipe but first you should know that some of these ingredients are not easily found in the US. Actually, for those of you who have made this cake here, maybe you can help us all out to find better equivalents for a few of these.  You can get the majority of these items in import/export stores and online on Amazon as well for a steep price. Also, I apologize for the pictures. I was writing down the recipe (trying to translate in my head), talk, help stir, and take pictures of each step. It was NOT an easy task…but I do these things for you people because I care. 🙂

First things first….The cake part. Please note that this particular recipe for cake is standard for any “Torte” that you are making. Anything with fresh berries or cream (sahne) you will use this same basic recipe. Just remove the cacao. Cacao is strictly for chocolate cake or mainly used with the Black Forest Cake.

What You Will Need:

6 eggs (Separate whites and yolks in two different mixing bowls)

200 grams/ 1 cup of sugar (Can use 250 grams but the cake is sweet enough so we use less)

Butter to grease the pan

300 grams/3 cups Flour (Best to use half all purpose flour, King Arthur brand is really good, and half cake flour)

15 grams/ 2 Tablespoons Baking Powder

1 Tablespoon Pure Cacao (Can use hot chocolate if you don’t have this on hand.)

 

How To Make It:

Preheat oven to 150 Celcius or 300 Fahrenheit.

Take the 6 egg whites and beat with a mixer until you have a meringue.

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Take the 6 egg yolks, add 6 tablespoons of luke warm water.  Next, take your sugar and mix with the egg yolks. You can add a couple teaspoons of vanilla flavored sugar or vanilla extract to the sugar, but it’s not necessary. Just added flavor.  Beat the egg yolk mixture until it’s almost white.

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Spread butter on your spring-form baking pan and up the sides as well (I use a 28cm pan). Add a little bit of flour and shake around to cover the bottom of the pan. Shake out any excess.

Next take your 150 grams of all purpose flour and 150 grams of cake flour and mix together. Add in your baking powder and mix gently. Next add in your Cacao and mix until combined.  Add the entire flour mixture slowly to the egg yolk mixture as you beat.

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Add a little bit of the meringue you made with the egg whites (about half) to the flour and egg yolk mixture. This keeps the cake from becoming too hard and helps to soften it. Once combined, remove the beaters and mix very slowly with a spatula the remaining meringue until it is fluffy.

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Pour mixture into pan and bake for 30 minutes. Test with a fork. Note: DO NOT open the oven door once during those 30 minutes. Strict orders from my mother-in-law.

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Let the cake cool completely. Once cooled, Turn cake over so bottom is facing up (this will allow for the top of the cake to be a bit more even), cut about an inch all the way around in two different places, making three layers.

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Take regular old sewing string and holding both ends bring very slowly through to complete the cutting of the sections. My M-I-L brought the string towards her, crossing her hands to make an X to make sure the entire section was cut.

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Remove the top two layers, leaving the last layer as is. You will need an adjustable cake ring to hold everything in place for adding the filling.

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Next up: The Filling!!!

What You Will Need:

100 gram/ 1 jar of sour cherries in juice.  (NOTE: In the US this hasn’t been easy to find. They do have them in the canned fruit section..usually on the top shelf. Make sure you get the TART cherries. Also, you can buy the German ones here: BavariaSausage.com)

Cornstarch mixed with water to thicken

Kirschwasser (most liquor stores have this, you will need about a cup approximately so not too much..but a little extra on hand is always good for drinking in between :-))

800 grams/28.5 ounces of whipping cream (30% fat is ideal)

2 packages of Sahnesteif/ Whipped Cream Stabilizer (King Arthur brand, which carries a good flour that is similar to that in Germany, also carries Instant Food Starch or there is also by the Dr. Oetker brand, Whipped Cream Stabilizer. The higher fat content of  the whipping cream also will help the stiffness in the end if you can’t find the stabilizers.)

Sugar

Finely Shaved Chocolate Pieces

 

How To Make It:

Remove the juice from the jar of cherries and pour into small pot. Save the cherries for later, keeping about 16 completely separate for decoration. Heat cherry juice on high and add in the cornstarch mixture while continuously whisking. Bring to a boil and add cherries to pot. Mix gently and remove from heat to allow to harden.

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Sprinkle 4 Tablespoons of Kirschwasser over the top of the bottom layer of cake. Once cherries have hardened, Use a spoon to spread over the top of the bottom layer evenly. When finished, sprinkle a little more Kirschwasser on top of the cherry mixture. Using a spoon helps to sprinkle this evenly.

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In large bowl, mix whipping cream with 2 packages of whipping cream stabilizer and beat. Add 2 tablespoons Kirschwasser and continue to beat. Add approximately one tablespoon of sugar to the cream mixture. You don’t want it too sweet. Germans don’t do sugar like us Americans do…hence why their cakes are way more amazing! Whipping cream is done when you can turn the bowl upside down and nothing comes out. 🙂 True story.  Spread just a little bit of the whipped cream to the top of the cherries. Just to give it that extra thickness and taste.

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Take your 2nd layer of cake and place it on top of the cherry mixture. Again, sprinkle 4 Tablespoons of Kirschwasser over the cake. Next, spread the whipping cream to cover the top of your 2nd layer cake. Be generous with this layer, majority of the cream will be here.

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Finally, place your 3rd layer of cake on top of the other two. With the remaining whipping cream mixture, spread evenly on top making sure it is smooth. Save a little bit to do the sides. Remove the cake ring and spread the whipped cream along the sides, smooth and evenly, saving a small amount to decorate the top.

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Depending on how many cherries you saved to decorate for the top you can use one of the fancy frosting decorating thingy majiggies or you can do it the old fashioned way like I do with a plastic bag with the corner cut off. Put remaining whipped cream in bag and squirt into small puffs of fun on top of the cake. Place your cherries on top of said puffs of fun, sprinkle your shaved chocolate pieces on top and VOILA! You have made yourself a traditional Schwarzwalder Kirsch Torte!

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Keep in cool area or refrigerate until ready to eat. (Cream melts, you know!)

Hope this was helpful and for those of you who asked me to post this, I hope this fills up your home with the tradition you know and love! Guten Appetit!

Until next time, Readers!!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxox

 

 

 

 

 

Settling Back In To America

It’s been a minute since I actually found some time to sit down and write. Toblerone and I have been slowly re-acclimating to all things American and the process has been fun so far!

We no longer are in the company apartment (THANK THE LAWD!), purchased a new home, and moved in! Everything happened so fast – literally 2 weeks time. Check out our new digs:

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The neighborhood we are in looks like Wisteria Lane (for you Desperate Housewives fans).  The people wave and are friendly and our direct neighbors are just incredible. It makes the world of difference to just feel like we would have someone to help us if something was wrong. In Germany, the neighbors wouldn’t even return a “Good Morning” until after 3 years! It was crazy.

I’ve already stored our Thanksgiving turkey in someone’s freezer while we waited for our fridge to arrive, and another one brought over her carbon monoxide detector after she learned we were having potential issues with our fireplace. We also got a quick visit and a bottle of wine on Thanksgiving from our other neighbors. I mean, where am I? Oh yeah…America! 🙂 But seriously, Michiganians (say that ten times fast!) are reallllllllllly nice people. We got so lucky!

I worked frantically to get two of the guest bedrooms finished for our very special guests (THE PARENTS!) I learned I forgot how to paint on walls here in the US so that took me a little bit longer than I expected! But they are mostly done. Need a few more things like end tables for one room and more pictures for both, etc. But we are ready for unexpected and expected guests alike!

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Thanksgiving was great! My parents and Toblerone’s mom came to visit us and we had a small yet very festive Turkey Day! It was so fun to host my first Thanksgiving here in the states in our new home. I wish the entire family could have been with us but some year we will host everyone. This was definitely a scale down from doing it in Germany for 15+ people!

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We went to a Christmas tree farm with my parents in search of the perfect tree. As you know, previously, my experience with Christmas trees wasn’t exactly easy for me to adjust to! At the farm we went to we didn’t bring any cameras, just our memories and it was the greatest memory I’ve had in a long time!

We put the tree together and it was really wonderful to have our parents here to be apart of the first Xmas in Michigan.

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Harley is adjusting and after going through a little bit of Reactivity (Fear Aggression) from being in a completely new place, he is finally starting to be more like himself.  We are all adjusting just fine and although we miss parts of Germany, I think we are happy where we are in this moment. We are where we are supposed to be. Which reminds me of my favorite quote from Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata”

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

The universe is unfolding as it should…profound if you can just believe it and let it.

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

 

 

 

Spice Gets Married (AGAIN!)

Don’t let the title fool you. Two weddings, same man, under 2 years 🙂 Yup! Thats how life works sometimes when you are in a multi-cultural relationship like ours. I got double the wedding fun! And ever so fitting is that in 10 days we will be celebrating our 2nd year anniversary from our first wedding. A lot of people have asked us which day will we celebrate and the answer is both! Something German for our October 26th anniversary and something American for our August 18th anniversary. We’re lucky enough to have two awesome days to remember…why not celebrate both! 🙂

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Hit play on the video below and listen to the song I walked down the aisle too. This song is more of a party song from the 80’s early 90’s but this version lets you actually hear the lyrics. It was beautiful and made a bunch of us cry! Even Toblerone! But how cute is it that a man that has been with me for 6 years, married for 2 would still cry when he sees me walking down the aisle. Beautiful moments all around, people!

During the past two years I have had MANY expats ask me about the wedding planning process from 3,000 miles away. You want my advice? DONT. DO. IT.  Not only did things come out a bit differently than if I had actual time to do things but the amount of stress compressed into the few days before the wedding is just not healthy. Weddings are stressful but imagine seeing your decorations and things you ordered online for the first time one week before the wedding day. If I had a month to go home and organize all wedding things, I would have in a heartbeat. It would have saved us all from combustion!

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We held our wedding in a house we rented for the week in Cape Cod, MA. It was the most beautiful setting for our wedding day. It wasn’t on the beach but I didn’t really want that necessarily. We just wanted it to be in our favorite place on earth.

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We had over 65 guests and every single person there came from out of state or out of country. Think about that for a minute. 65 people (including kidlets) that came for this moment. This special day. It’s this kind of feeling that just can’t be described but that fact that our destination wedding pulled in that amount of love and friendship was just jaw dropping. We were speechless.

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My darling cousin did my hair and makeup and surprise!!!!!!…… My dress is PINK! Wouldn’t want it any other way! We took wedding pictures at the gorgeous Mass Audubon Nature park and wildlife sanctuary. It was a perfect spot. We had the ocean, we had sand, we had forests, we had ponds. So many different cool aspects for a great backdrop. One would even say magical.

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It was 78 degress, sunny (hot in a massive dress), slight seabreeze, and little tiny bugs just LOVED getting up in between the layers of pink tulle I was wearing! My groom looked crazy handsome in his blue suit specially bought in Germany. Our wedding party looked fantastic! It all turned out well considering this was all primarily discussed through email before hand. Everyone looked perfect for the part!

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The morning of our wedding I woke up around 7am and asked Toblerone to walk with me around the yard to take it all in. That was the one and only moment of “calm” that I felt! lol…but I suppose thats normal! Everything was slowly getting set up and we had lemonade and iced tea set up for our guests as they arrived. They got “fan” programs, noise makers, some got rice butterflies to throw in honor of our grandparents who were looking down on us.

Alot of what I did was DIY. I found a bunch of templates online and the real deal of it is…no one cares about the paper products at a wedding. The name cards, escort cards, programs, all of that gets thrown out or drinks spilled over it. I knew that going in so I did ALL of that myself. Even our invitations. I found a lot of great stuff over at weddingchicks.com. But doing a simple search for “templates” is very helpful! Don’t spend a dime on stuff if you don’t have to!

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The ceremony was perfect and personal. Private and intimate. Everything we wanted. AND…done in two languages thanks to our very good friend who did the whole ceremony for us. Just perfect! We had a “stone and time capsule” ceremony.  On each seat we placed gold painted stones that each person was instructed to hold tightly and say a blessing, prayer, wish, and simply put their love and energy in to while Toblerone’s Dad and brother serenaded us with a trumpet duet. These stones were collected and placed into a box with wine and a love letter for us to open on our first anniversary. This was my absolute favorite part of the whole ceremony.

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The reception started off with me sobbing basically while I thanked everyone for coming all this way just for little old us. Our Cape Cod Clambake was fantastic and people raved about the meal. It was a lot of food and for a great price. More importantly kind of fun! I literally was cracking a lobster in my wedding gown. I highly recommend it!

As for the music, I did it all myself. I spent WEEKS….no make that MONTHS working on a playlist long enough to keep the crowd going! I used an app on my phone called Wedding DJ which was great through all the testing but suddenly stopped working by cocktail hour. Thankfully I had the playlists on my computer in iTunes and we used that the rest of the night. I never left the dance floor. For some reason I felt like if the bride was on the dance floor…people would always dance. No one wants to leave the bride alone up there! Right?! I also didn’t have a sip of alcohol. I was sober through the COMPLETE thing! It was awesome! 🙂 Nothing classy about a drunk bride!

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The party ended around 2am and I ended the night with two of my best friends in my bed talking about the day and life in general while Toblerone hung out with the late-late night crew in the tent. Catching up and just loving the moment. It was the most stressful day of my life and I would NEVER do it again but it was the greatest thing in the world to have everyone we love there (and a few missing!).

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So again for all other expats out there planning a wedding from afar…take the time to sort out the big stuff as best as you can and be prepared for nothing and everything to go wrong on your special day. I received one piece of advice from everyone and that was “Just enjoy the day.” But as a perfectionist, that’s impossible and I wish I could have enjoyed it more. Looking back at it now though, I wouldn’t have changed a thing! Wouldn’t be our story if it wasn’t a little bit crazy and out of hand!

Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxoxo

 

Counting Down The Days

We can almost count on two hands the days we have left here in Germany. It’s been slightly hectic but not too much that it feels as if everything is spiraling out of control. I’ve been packing to keep me busy since I left my job at the end of July. The wedding came and went and now here we are. Next chapter! Just like that!

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I’ve been actively searching for homes and there is a massive amount to choose from! Our Realtor sent me over almost 90 properties to start sorting through a while back and we’ve finally figured out what we are looking for. Location is key for work and also easy to get to stores, city, etc. And my number one main “must-have” is a fence for our dearest Harley Noodle Jones Butt Butt. I just want to be able to let him outside so he can run free around his “own space.”  Waterfront is also ideal but not a necessary factor at the moment since there are so many lakes around us!

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Today Harley and I ventured out to our favorite spot, “The Butterfly Field” and through the woods…which is also a mansion for ticks and other such things! He had a little bit of a photo shoot and loved all the snacks he was getting! Living it up in the place we called home the last three and a half years.

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There are many new houses being built directly behind us blocking our entire bedroom and bathroom windows. In a year from now, our house won’t be the home we once had. This town won’t be what it once was. Things are changing, people are coming and going and that’s just how life is!

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Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxo