Do you have a very favorite smell? Like, you go into a bookstore and breathe in a huge, yoga type breath, and you’re transported by the smell of new books and coffee to a happy place? I have a few of those smells in my life. Apple scented candles transport me instantly to back-to-school time; something about apples being ripe and being canned in my mother’s kitchen when I was a child, right around the time I started school every Fall. Bookstores, coffee, libraries, they all evoke strong memories of happy times in my life.
But the best smell of all for me, of all time, is the ocean.
When I was little my family made a pilgrimage, almost annually, across the deserts of Utah, Nevada and California (and a couple times up the coast to Oregon, Washington and Canada) to reach the Pacific Ocean. My mother’s family is all from the San Francisco area, and there’s a love for the ocean in our family DNA that runs long and deep.
The first memory I have of the ocean is from the time my family spent two weeks in Monterey for Christmas vacation when I was 7. I remember … >> find out more...
Iced coffee is one of the most joyous drinks of summer, isn’t it? Icy cold caffeinated beverages help keep the hot summer temperatures at bay while soothing you with their tasty glory. Tasty, tasty glory.
Have you ever made your own iced coffee though? It’s the easiest thing in the whole amazing world. And I have a yummy recipe for you and you, and you in the corner. No need to spend upwards of $8 a cup at your local coffee shop when you can make it for around .50 cents a glass.
Below is the lowdown, (and the recipe!) for your very own tasty cold beverage. The main bummer about iced coffee is that the melting ice in the cup waters down the delicious flavor of the coffee, but don’t worry, I’ve got a way around that.
MAKE YOUR OWN ICED COFFEE RECIPE
Step 1: Brew some coffee
Step 2: Cool coffee in refrigerator
Step 3: Add a dash of vanilla + stir
Step 4: Add ice cold creamer ice cubes
Step 5: Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar
// If you’re a fan of … >> find out more...
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I’ve talked a bit about the very difficult year we’ve had at the Czarnecki household, and the profound effect it has had on our family. Our baby girl (she’s nearly 15) has been ill since last winter, and since then we’ve gone through every possible test, procedure, blood work, doctor and hospital available. In fact, recently Sofie and I made promises to each other in light of all we’ve been through together this year.
This sweet (and extra spicy) girl of mine has had to face some serious challenges, and overnight it seems, has grown in the face of darkness and heartbreak.
I wouldn’t wish that kind of education on anyone, anywhere. Ever. But it’s one of the first major life challenge for this girl of mine, who has never failed at anything in her life. Sofie has, quite literally, never failed at anything. Until this year, when she couldn’t make herself better no matter how hard she tried.
We’ve all hit a wall at … >> find out more...
It’s easy to forget to enjoy little moments of bliss and joy, with our lives so hectic and pressured. Inspired by recent travels, I compiled a collection of photos called Looking Out My Back Door. It does make me want to hum a little Creedence Clearwater Revival, yes, but it also makes me marvel at how quickly the scenery can change. As in life, if we’re not careful, it can pass us by in the blink of an eye. As you browse through this collection, remember the wise words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while, you could miss it.” With that, I’d like to share what I see looking out my back door and encourage you to enjoy little moments, whether out your back door or far from home.
While in Texas, this was my scenery most of the time. Oh, how wonderful it was to open the blinds and see the peaceful serenity of a lake and horses! It was my daily reminder to pause and breathe.
My husband and I snuck off kid free to downtown Dallas for a night. Since we live in the bush … >> find out more...
Did you take my advice a couple weeks ago and watch the series premiere of Outlander, your new favorite show of all time? If you haven’t, I’m about to reprimand you in my very stern mom voice,
It’s a shame you’re not being obedient. I’m quite disappointed in the choice you just made. I still love you, but I wish you’d listen to me because I’m looking out for your best interests.
Was that passive aggressive enough for you? Ha!
If you didn’t watch the first episode of Outlander, no worries, you can still catch in on STARZ. In fact, it might be good that you waited because now there are two episodes ready for you to binge on, and tomorrow night there will be one more!
You guys. Seriously. Outlander is so good my own super manly man of a husband is waiting for the next episode. Have you watched it? If you have (thank you for being obedient) what do you think of Jamie? He’s kind of perfection. Sam Heughan, (the actor who plays Jamie) is actually a Scot so he’s making it WERK, and Claire! She’s the very best. A modern day feminist … >> find out more...
My daughter has made it through the roughest year of her young life, and it’s not over yet. She’s been through so much, for so long. Really, WE have been through so much together this year, as both a mother and her beloved daughter. We’re somewhere in the middle of our journey, but there’s no light at the end of the tunnel quite yet, and it’s hard stuff. This daughter of mine is handling this heartbreak with a strength and dignity I didn’t possess at 15, and even now as a full-fledged adult. I’m learning, and stretching, and crying a lot as we go through this awfulness together, and in the end I think I might even be grateful for what I’ve learned.
But, don’t quote me on that.
My strong, willful, graceful, funny, smart and beautiful daughter and I participated in a video in celebration of mothers and daughters making promises to one another. Tori Amos, celebrated musician and fellow mother of a teenaged daughter, has just released an album Unrepentant Geraldines, featuring a song called ‘Promise’. In the song, Tori and her gorgeous daughter make promises to one another, the kind only a mother and daughter … >> find out more...
We officially crossed something off our proverbial bucket lists this summer: a family trip to the Oregon coast. If you’ve been there, you already know the joy of it. Never been? Go. You’ll be forever delighted with the memories, sights and sounds of a rugged, breathtaking, magical slice of the Pacific coast.
We enjoyed hikes through the towering forests, running across crescent beaches, kite flying (a favorite pastime here), a first attempt at skim boarding, early misty-morning beach combing, sand dollar discoveries, beach sunsets, and ice cream cones. All reasons to find a spot on your personal bucket list for the Oregon coast, for a perfectly amazing weekend.
Our Oregon coast weekend was spent mainly on Cannon Beach, home to iconic Haystack Rock. It’s a behemoth rock right on the shore that serves as a nesting spot for Puffins and other sea birds. The rock is also surrounded by tidepools. At low tide we could walk right out to it and view hundreds of sea anemones, barnacles, mussels, even sea stars and hermit crab. Any fans of the movie Goonies. (“Hey you guys!”) will recognize lots of Cannon Beach scenery. I could not have anticipated the boundless joy my boys,… >> find out more...
Need some cute back to school girls hairstyles to try on your favorite little females? Whoa. That’s right, back to school. I cannot even believe it myself, but it’s almost time! How can that be true? I’m starting to things like “Back in my day, we started the day after labor day!” But I guess this old lady has to get with it! Even if there is no Labor Day in France where we live.
To help ease some of the pain, and eliminate some potential school-morning-drama, I thought I’d share some fun back-to-school girls hairstyles. Easy and cute. If you ever read my blog, you might wonder where I got the little girls to model for me. Turns out my beautiful nieces are willing little models with lots of hair to style. So, we snapped a bunch of poses and pictures, and I got to have some serious girl time.
3 back to school hairstyles for little girls
Now, if you’re like me, and mostly are fixing breakfast and rushing out the door, trying to remember lunches and backpacks and jackets and tying shoes, the last thing you need is a head of hair that needs doing, let … >> find out more...
Understanding a different “culture” is more than just knowing about traditions and foods of a place you are visiting. It’s understanding what different countries & people value, or find humorous or consider offensive. For example, this conversation that really happened to me:
“Jen, did you sit behind a computer the whole time you were in the states?”
“Because you look a little bit fat.”
Gasp! This is a real life conversation I had with one of my African friends upon returning to S. Africa after 2+ months of traveling around the U.S. and England. I mean, yes, there were a few more fat cells stuck to my thighs, midsection, and derrière (thank you Austin food trucks), but no one is supposed to actually point that out, right? Isn’t is supposed to be rude to say things like that?
Well, that’s what my American culture tells me. Fat equals a four letter word that should never be used to describe someone, and is definitely not a compliment to an American’s ears.
Did you know that calling someone fat in African culture is a compliment?
Take a moment to wrap your head around that one. I’ve lived in Africa on … >> find out more...