Strawberry Time

Remember that fabulous organic strawberry find? Those four pounds have been bringing so much yumminess into our week. I have never tasted strawberries from the store that were so good… they literally taste like they were just picked from the local patch yesterday. Um!!!

As a result, I’m super excited for the real strawberry season. And dreaming of my future square foot strawberry beds. :D

So without further ado…

Yummy Ways to Eat Strawberries [I know, so original]

Make these cheesecake bars, with stawberries instead of raspberries. Oh my yum. You must try them! The bonus is that they are gluten AND sugar free. I normally don’t cook this way, but it made my Sunday company happy! Plus it’s nice to be able to eat a dessert guilt-free. :D I will definitely be making them again – can’t wait to try them with different kinds of berries. I didn’t have coconut flour, so I subbed ground up almonds. It seemed to work out okay.

Dip them in dark chocolate cream cheese. While picnicking at the park, preferably.

Put them in smoothies.

Make strawberry lemonade and eat with your freshly grilled burgers & favorite cole slaw. Cheers for the first grilling of the season!

Eat them by the handful, right out of the fridge.

Make a yummy brunch and eat them on top of pancakes, waffles or dutch babies.

What is your favorite way to use strawberries?

P.S. I do remember that Tuesday and Friday posting challenge. Some weeks, well, real life interferes. I’m trying. :D

Perfect Reality

It’s fascinating how we can make our lives sound so picturesque and/or perfect by what we choose to share or not share. For example:

I can post a status on facebook that goes something like this: Planting herbs and lettuce in my square foot garden, wide open windows, organic strawberries from one of my favorite discount grocery stores, and flip flops & sunshine = happiness!!!… meanwhile, I didn’t mention the part about it being ferociously windy while I was out planting, with precious seeds almost being blown away.

I could tell you all about my fun morning browsing with Steph at Flower & Home Marketplace (super neat place, btw), stopping at Main Street Exchange, and about all the organic finds while grocery shopping… and then totally leave out the fact that we were STARVING hungry the last half of the trip and the car rattled and BANGED its way through town.

This afternoon I put on some soft music on Pandora, made myself a smoothie (I’m becoming rather predictable these days) and sat down at the table to… balance the checkbook. (A not-looked-forward-to task). Doesn’t it sound so much more romantic when I leave the balancing the checkbook part out?

I don’t blast all the juicy details of our marriage relationship for the whole world to see. As a result, it appears that we do nothing besides travel the world, have coffee together, and are always mushy gushy in love. Well, there is also reality and those grumpy days when one is not overly loveable. There are many things I don’t blog, because I cherish and respect our relationship way too much. Just know, we are as human as everyone else.

I can clear the mess in the background away when I take a picture, and give you the illusion that my house is clean all the time. It’s not. All you see is the focus of the picture and not the dust on the end table.

I can post a picture of my supper, and make it seem like I’ve been eating grand meals the last three days while hubby’s been away. The truth is, I’ve eaten leftover lasagna a time too many (it’s finally all eaten) and I haven’t eaten as healthily or as often as I should. It’s just so much bother to make food just for me! [Edited to add: ironically, I also just bit my tongue so hard that it bled profusely, while taking the last bite of this delicious salad. Not glamorous at all.]

So why do I do this? Why do I leave out less than glamorous details?

There are several reasons. Often, they don’t pertain to what I’m writing about. Often, I am choosing to fixate on the things I enjoy or see beauty in or am thankful for. If I felt like I always had to write a disclaimer when I’m writing about the simple things I find beauty in, well that gets annoying really fast. OH BY THE WAY, I’m not as happy about these things after all because there’s ALSO balancing the checkbook, wind, a messy house and all these other things. If I focus on these negatives, it’s alot harder to be thankful or take joy in things. And the last reason is, most people don’t want to read negative details all the time. Am I thinking correctly? Maybe I’m just too prone to look on the positive side. ;)

On the other hand, I do believe in writing honestly and realistically. Obviously life is not always going to be strawberries and sunshine. So my conclusion is… balance. I like reading about the ups and downs of other people’s lives, but always in balance.

Should I be weaving more reality and honesty into my blog posts? Tell me — I’d like to hear from you. :D

A Few of My Favorite Things…

1. Smoothies. My latest obsession. Cold in my throat suddenly sounds better than hot drinks. Maybe it’s the warmer weather. Maybe it’s the fact that I held the couch down for the better part of 3 days with an out-of-the-blue flu bug. :( Right now my favorite is frozen banana, mixed blend of strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, and milk. And I also like to add…

2. Chia seeds have been filling my smoothies with lots of fiber & protein & iron & calcium. I’ve heard about how good they are for you, but always shuddered at the price and put them back on the shelf. Enter: Cost-Co! My sis-in-law has a membership there and she took me shopping last week. Organic chia seeds: $13.99 for 2 pounds. I was delighted!!

3. Green grass! We’ve got so much rain in the last week, and everything is greening up. Spring is coming!!

4. Coffee in this mug. We just added this one to our mug collection. :D

5. Anniversaries. Okay, so we’ve only ever had one. :D It was fun celebrating one year, even though our weekend plans had to be postponed due to the fore-mentioned flu bug. I think I like anniversaries so much because marriage is one of my favorite things.

6. Blogs that are graciously honest. Shelley hit the nail on the head in this post: Everything Looks Perfect From Far-Away and I like Christy’s perspective in Real Life at Our House. Good stuff. The balance of being honest while writing/blogging, yet not airing all your dirty laundry for the whole world to see.

7. Libraries, books, and drippy days. All at the same time, of course.

8. Fresh decor. It was high past time for the dry prickly pine needles that have been on top of the china cupboard since December to find a new home in the trash. Ick. Now to find a wreath to replace the Christmas one on the door…

9. Happy mail. It never fails to thrill me. :D

10. Winning!!!!! Just got an email saying I won this giveaway. :D

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Adventures in Sydney [Aussie Photos, Part II]

After being in Darwin for a day, we flew back to Sydney and spent a couple days there. Such a neat city! I had to keep pinching myself that we were REALLY here. Ya know, just walking up the Opera House steps like it’s no big deal.

We took the train to Circular Quay, which is right near the Sydney Harbour.

After having breakfast in a cute restaurant overlooking the Harbour…

…we walked to a fancy-schmancy hotel where Jonathan’s boss had a meeting with someone. I entertained myself by journaling.

Then we got to sight-see the rest of the day. So fun! The restaurant staff told us that the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship had just come into the harbour that morning around 5 am.

A man was doing street art on the sidewalk.

The Botanical Gardens were so pretty. A feast for our winter-weary eyes.

I loved the sign that welcomed you into the gardens. There were people EVERYWHERE picnicking, laying out on the grass sleeping, reading… so neat!

And then we walked right up to… the Opera House!

Continued next time…

Better Together

I can’t help but remember last year at this time. It was April 2nd, and we were four days away from our wedding day. I felt perfectly fine the day before, but the very next morning found me flat out sick on the couch. Couldn’t keep anything down for hours, even water. My dear hubby-to-be sat there and fed me Coke by the spoonful every 15 minutes. He was so sweet and caring… and still is. :D And in case you’re wondering, I recovered fast and was feeling better again the next day. Thankfully.

We survived both of us having mono within four months of marriage. He patiently endures my forgetfulness when it comes to remembering to fold the socks or pants left in the dryer. (I am improving :) ) He lets me cry when I miss my church family like crazy. We disagree about silly things like how hot the water in the shower should be and whether coffee is better with or without cream. We go on trips and spend hours and days together in the car or airplane, and when we come home and he goes to work, it seems lonely to spend a few hours apart.

Life is just better together.

[This is supposed to be us posing with our "J <3 K - Australia 2014" sand art. Only you can't see the writing in the sand. And he was desperately grabbing my scarf before it drug in the sand and I'm laughing because the camera was clicking away]

 

Of Traveling and More

I had planned to post part 2 of our Australia pictures today, but it just didn’t happen. And since I am trying to stick to my Tuesday & Friday posting schedule, instead I bring to you some travel tips I’ve compiled over the last month.

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To say we spend a lot of time traveling is an understatement.

Jonathan’s job involves international travel during the winter months, and some additional occasional stateside travel. Our first year of marriage has included trips to Illinois (numerous times), New Jersey, California, Ukraine (just him, not me), and Australia.

I love traveling, so going to new places and countries is super exciting. I never dared to dream I’d have the opportunity to travel like this. It’s truly a blessing, and I’m so grateful for the chance to go along.

Last fall, a lot of our traveling was road trips. For awhile, it felt like we were forever packing, traveling, coming home and unpacking. Catching up on laundry and house stuff. Then packing again and starting all over. Finally in January we had a whole blissful four weeks to be HOME. The end of January we started up another round of travel — flying this time.

A few travel tips I’ve gathered along the way:

  • Pack your own snacks. Not only is it hard to find healthy food while traveling, but it is expensive to buy snacks at travel plazas and gas stations. My standard go-to travel snacks are: fiber bars (basically a healthy peanut butter granola bar), meat sticks, cheese, some kind of fresh fruit like grapes or blueberries or apples, skinny chocolate, some kind of nuts or healthier chips, fresh veggies, hummus and crackers, and fruit slush. Granted, some of these will only apply to road trips. I like to pack a thermal bag, and use frozen water bottles as the ice pack. Then you have cool food AND extra water as well. I’ve also frozen fruit slush and used that in place of an ice pack. It’s a little harder to pack snacks while flying, but I still trying to pack some of the dry/non-perishable snacks in my carry-on. I have been so thankful for them, when on long state-side flights where they give you nothing but beverages. (Sorry United, but I can’t go 5 hours with a little drink and nothing to eat. The downsides of a fast metabolism)
  • Keep a small bag packed with extra toiletry items. We both have small bottles of shampoo, body wash, hairspray, etc. that we only use while traveling. Even if we’re not flying and don’t have to adhere to the 3 oz or less liquids rule, we still use the small bottles. They take up less room in the suitcase and are a lot handier to travel with.
  • If traveling internationally, research the electric voltage in the country or countries you will be in, and if needed, invest in an outlet converter. Europe and Australia have 220 voltage, which will fry your electronics. Plus the outlet holes don’t fit our devices too well.
  • Don’t forget your flip flops! (If you’re going to a warm place) :)

Air travel:

  • Make life as easy as possible for yourself while going through security. If traveling with liquids, have your liquid bag in an easy to access spot, so you can easily pull it out. (Same with laptops and your passport/ID/boarding pass) Wear easy to slip on & off shoes.
  • Take things to do along. Hours in an airplane can get really boring, unless you are one of those people who can sleep anywhere. Books, music, computer, games, Sudoku, journals, etc.
  • Take a natural sleeping aid along to help with sleeping on long flights. (Ie: melatonin) And then remember to take them. ;)
  • When flying or packing light, take outfits that can be interchangeable. Ie: cardigans that match various outfits, similar color schemes that can be mixed and matched, shoes that go with numerous outfits, etc. Check the weather forecast of your destination and plan accordingly. Also, always pack a warm sweatshirt or jacket, even if it looks like it will be suffocatingly hot where you are going. You never know when you may need it. Evenings can cool down, airports or airplanes may be cold, or you may run into a scenario where you need something warm to wear.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t loiter or stall in security areas; it will only make you appear suspicious, or get you pulled off for an extra security check. (And who likes those?)
  • Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on. You will thank yourself later, if your check-in luggage would happen to be delayed or missing.
  • Always refer to the information board for up-to-date flight information. The gate number or flight info printed on your ticket may have been changed, so don’t depend on it to be completely accurate.

 Any travel tips to share, that I missed?

Bursts of Sunshine

Bursts of sunshine in this gray week? [Because I am desperately trying not to complain about this snow and gloom and cold and frightful wind that came close to blowing me away today. Tis hard sometimes.]

News of a friend’s brand-new baby boy. Welcome to the world, Kaysen David.
 
Catch-up chat with a dear friend over coffee and cookies in my living room. That’ll brighten any day! :D
 
Transplanting tiny little tomato plants and dreaming of warm summer days in my garden.
 
Random just to talk phone call from a fellow newly-married-and-living-far-from-home friend.
 
Breakfast and coffee chats with my dear PA family. :D
 
Stepping in a quiet greenhouse and feasting my eyes on flowers! Green! Spring!
 
Looking at last summer’s pictures and remembering strawberries and flower pot beauty.
 
The stack of mail waiting at the post office yielded two wedding invitations and one lovely hand-written card.
 
Singing at the bedside of an 87-year-old great-aunt. Precious.
 
Robins hopping around in the snow and singing away. They must know spring is just around the corner. :D
 
 

Happy Thursday, everyone!

 

Aussie Photos

After a day & a half of flying, which is undocumented because I forgot to charge my camera battery before we left (thankfully I brought the charger along)…

…we arrived to the Darwin tropics. Ahhhhh! Sunshine and warmth. Bliss! It was all I could do to keep from giggling with giddy excitement. (Hey, it had been a very long time since we felt sunshine that was WARM)

Before supper that night, our friend Bluey took us out to the Darwin Harbour.

…and then we ate at a delightful Greek restaurant by the water. The food was delicious!

Us in our jet-lagged traveling tired state. Happy to be there!

Saw a beautiful sunset before we left the Harbour. My camera couldn’t do it justice!

We stayed in this cute little cabin. Oh, that bed felt so heavenly, after 30+ hours of travel.

I got a lot of amusement out of their different ways of saying things:

Give way, rubbish, telly, footy, ring someone, good on you, straight away, and car park were some of my other favorite words or sayings. They abbreviate everything — television becomes “telly”, football becomes “footy”,  and air conditioning becomes “air con”. Very fascinating!

Their terms for coffee drinks were interesting, as well. Instead of ordering a coffee with cream, or a black coffee, you would order a “long black” (black) or a “flat white” (coffee with milk). Brewed coffee cost just as much as lattes, so you can guess which one I drank a lot of. :D The cost of food is insanely high in Australia, because their wages and cost of living are almost double ours.

Bluey took us to a coffee shop for breakfast the next morning, before we headed to the airport.

Jonathan & Bluey having one last business discussion before we flew out. I asked him why he’s called Bluey, because that’s not his real name. He said that Aussies call people with red hair “Bluey”. (Apparently his hair used to be red)

And then we boarded the plane and flew back to Sydney. The flight crew remembered us from the previous day and were shocked to see us returning so soon. They even gave us free drinks & food. :D

Continued next time… {Adventures in Sydney}

Back to Reality

If I would have Instagram, yesterday’s post would’ve looked like this:

#sothisiswhatjetlagfeelslike
#isitSundayorMonday?
#downingthecoffee
#hardlyanyfoodinthehouse
#dayspentonthefarm
#kindinlawsfedustwomeals
#nowaddictedtoMonopolyDeal
#exhaustion
#hubbysayswecan’tsleep
#it’samazingtobehome

[There would've been no pictures though. Tired and jetlagged people are not meant to be photographed.]

Today is better. A full night of sleep can do wonders. I donned my cheery red sweater, brewed some coffee, and spent the whole morning grocery shopping so I actually have food to cook with. There is the mountain of dirty laundry to dig out from under, and we have revivals at church every night this week. Plus there is lots of farm work, so we are hitting the ground running. [Side note: I had a slight panicked second today where I questioned whether I was driving on the right side of the road. Heh!]

It’s so good to be back doing normal things in our little house. Traveling is fun, but there is just no place like home. :D Even though it is still cold around here — it was supposed to be spring when we came back! I must say, the summer-like temperatures we experienced for the last two weeks spoiled me. I WANT SUMMER. (We are pretending the 1-3 inches of snow forecast for tomorrow isn’t going to happen)

Sneak peek for the next few picture posts: