Skip to content

one year in the books

September 22, 2020

August 6- We moved to Germany almost a year ago next week. I remember last summer feeling like one list after the other as we prepared our sea shipment, then our air, then packed about 13 bags to bring with us on United. As much as I was nervous, I was excited for a change. Who doesn’t imagine living somewhere totally new?

We arrived to Munich and had a driver arranged to take us to Ulm. It’s about an hour and a half from there and our driver didn’t speak english. Welcome to reality! It was downpouring outside and my eyes were darting from each one of my children’s faces to try and read how they were feeling. Thankfully, Tom had been working in Germany for 6 months before we came and he had handled a ton of the moving details – like having all our IKEA purchases assembled before we arrived so we could walk in and get settled more easily. (ps. if you can, have everything assembled by IKEA- we had 2 full truckloads delivered- can you guess how long this would have taken us? Turns out 3 full days by 2 hired IKEA experts)

With emotions and jet lag, it’s an up and down road for the first couple weeks. You run on adrenaline for awhile, and I was swept up in our cute town and travel opportunities. But then, reality sets in and it occurs to you this is your life – and with a language barrier, I had to get busy learning some deutsch!

Brooke’s journal after week one
These are the flags last year of where every country a student is from. 🙂

Our kids attend an International School and that part of the transition was very helpful. The common language is English although they take German almost everyday. My middle son also takes Spanish and French- 3 languages every week! Kids are from over 25 countries!! and almost half the students are German. Always good for an American to feel like a minority, I think! There is only one class per grade and the max is 20 students. All my kids attend school on the same campus. They take a public bus to and from school that kids ride alone as early as 6. You may know this, but kids have a tremendous amount of freedom in Germany – it is very common to see kids walking alone or to a store with no parents. My kids love this. It will be the hardest loss for my son in middle school when we return to the USA.

Ulm is a really charming town
I love our apartment and our location

September 22- Like most things, I have a strong start and then get busy with other things! Now we have been back for over a month and my kids are back in school, only wearing masks when they enter the building or change classes. It is a much more normal environment than we could have even anticipated, and I feel lucky.

I am staying somewhat busy- starting German classes again (I know so many words but my pronunciation is terrible), cooking, running errands, running the Danube, and playing tennis once a week. I miss my American friend a lot – she was in my building and my partner in crime. It’s just a new normal and I am adjusting. We have many other very nice friends and we are having fun on our weekends and enjoying the biergartens as our weather has been incredible so far. With our small refrigerator, I am at the market or grocery almost everyday. Here is my cart I pull around town:

As for how I feel between year one and year two, it’s a total breath of fresh air. I feel like we know what we are doing most of the time, I understand trash separation like a pro, the kids are settled, Tom is settled, I am settled! We are already trying to live for every month as we think this year will be our last. It’s tempting to keep on going to other spots, but we have to consider our oldest son in highschool so it will be a group decision. I love that I am continually learning, feeling “awake” to signs, conversations, differences, similarities. I have thought about things I never thought about before- and met people who are from places I had never heard of. I get sad when I think that will change. I can’t imagine if we had turned down this opportunity – and I feel lucky Tom was offered the chance to run a company in Bavaria. Year 2 is getting our groove, relaxing more, and trying to travel as much as we can in a global pandemic year. To sum it up- when you get the chance, take it. If you want to see more pictures, please follow me on instagram @theconciergemom.
Fisherman’s Village in Ulm
our incredible view of the Munster
Last year’s Bavarian breakfast
We have traveled so many awesome places


March 27, 2019
Ulm, Germany

hi everyone! Many of you know we are planning a move to Germany and have been visiting to find a home and introduce our kids to their international school which they will attend next year. It’s been very exciting and a TON of details! I have notepads all over my house. We have chosen to live in Ulm, Germany which is about an hour plus west of Munich. I have included a picture of the charming downtown above.

In the meantime, I am still cooking and living life- will include some new recipes below. I also am seeing so many friends for lunches and walks which is the best part of the impending move so far! All this extra time seeing friends while I can. I am planning a final annual couple tennis night through Paperless Post – have any of you used it? They have some really cute invitations for tennis – will see what I think of the RSVP process once I get it out! I also am planning a lot of flights, hotels, air b n b’s for next fall since we will be in such a great spot to travel- please pass on any favorite hotels or experiences to me- it would mean a lot!

Here are some recent favorite meals and desserts:

Texas Sheet Cake cookies– made and devoured yesterday. OH MY- one of the best things I have baked!

Chili Lime Shrimp Wraps from Clean Food Crush- YUM. YUM. YUM. About a 10 minute prep and 5 minute cook! My whole family put it in the top 5 recipes. I used butter lettuce for me but tortillas for the kids. We served rice and fruit salad on the side.

Beef and Broccoli – so awesome- everyone loves it.

Martha Stewart Gingerbread White Chocolate Blondies– amazing. Given to us from a friend and I didn’t think they were going to be my thing… until they were.

Cornflake- Crusted Halibut with Chile- Cilantro Aioli. Suggested by a friend- on my schedule for Friday night! Looks delicious.

That’s all for now! Pls send me any suggestions for Europe travel. Happy Spring!

kauai – december 2018

January 13, 2019
Favorite pic – Family Snorkel- photo by Leo Parias Photography

Kauai is magical! We went in 2017 and vowed to return asap. It didn’t take long for us to figure out how to get there again! After visiting Maui, we flew from OGG to LIH on Christmas Day. Such a quick flight and easy to hop the islands. We love the south side of the island and I read hundreds of reviews before settling on the Marriott Waiohai Beach Club in Poipu. It’s right on the ocean and had the ideal set up for us with two king bedrooms and two pull out coaches, a full kitchen and family room too! With all our travel, we thought this was a luxurious set up.

Since we had just been to Kauai, it was nice to enjoy the hotel here and also be close to the things we wanted to do on the south end. The weather on the north side of the island was raining the whole time we visited, so we did not drive north at all! This actually made it really relaxing as we were rarely in the car. Here is what we did- first off, we bought body boards/ boogie boards in Maui at Walmart so we just checked them and brought them to Kauai. Right outside the hotel is a great beach- and we found we liked the beach just west of our resort even more. Just walk the front path past Koa Kea resort and down the rock path and it’s a beautiful beach with surfing and great water to swim and lounge. You can rent surfboards everywhere- Tom went to the Sheraton and for $20 had one for 3 hours I believe. The kids joined him and loved it. This beach is called Kiahuna Beach. Even swimming in shallow waters, you have turtles all around you and below you. Bring snorkel gear!! And a go pro!

We also did a couple fun excursions- and here’s full transparency! I booked the tubing trip for Kauai Backcountry Adventures which is top rated- and not cheap at $550 for our family. Other than a wonderful guide, the five of us thought it was fun but totally not worth it. Maybe our family likes more adventure, but Tom and I met eyes on our tubes and started laughing that we had paid to do this tour. Will was next to me and totally underwhelmed as well. When we got out of our tubes, Brooke and Luke didn’t say much and just hopped in the van! So, on behalf of my family, this was a bust!
On the opposite note, a highlight was Captain Andy’s boat tour of the Na Pali Coast. I can’t describe the beauty of this coast. Anyone who has been there, says the same thing. Tom and I agreed it is one the of the most beautiful things we have ever seen in our lives.

Na Pali Coast- breathtaking
Captain Andy’s snorkel tour
Captain Andy’s Snorkel Tour

Definitely get out on the water!

Favorite places to eat- always Keoki’s Paradise– we hit happy hour if we can to save money. Luke loves their ribs, and their fresh catch and poke bowl is yummy! Mai Tais and Hula Pie are a must!

Mai Tai’s at Keoki’s Paradise

We also just love The Fresh Shave– it’s so fresh- ask about their secret menu as well! Next to this food truck was Kauai Poke Co– and it was delicious- see picture above! We also are crazy for a good acai bowl- this year our top find was Anake’s – we also went to Little Fish Coffee as it was right by the hotel- good but not as good as Anake’s in our opinion!

Another find this year was that there is The Dolphin on the south end! Boom! Fresh seafood and awesome sushi. We had found it on the north end the year before so this was such a happy discovery!

“Can’t Decide” order at Lapperts

Desserts- Lappert’s is a great spot for ice cream- Tom and Luke got a “can’t decide” this year which I believe is 5 scoops of different flavors. Needless to say, they couldn’t decide the next day either. Brooke really wanted to try Uncle’s Shave Ice – it’s two doors down from Lappert’s – here she is- very happy with her choice!

I could go on but I think this may get you there! Couple things to mention- if you want to look at the Marriott property, send me an email- I have a great offer right now and a good contact –

and per usual, if you go, send me YOUR favorites!

maui – dec 2018

January 4, 2019
Snorkeling with Sail Trilogy on Maui

Hi everyone! We just got back from such an amazing trip to Hawaii. Many of you have read my previous post on the big island and Kauai in 2017- which is here if you’d like to look back!

We loved being in Hawaii so much that we decided to head back for the holidays this year and went to both Maui and Kauai.

Let’s begin with Maui. We stayed at the Westin Villas in Kaanapali. I had never been to Maui and really liked the location. It was key for us to have a good sleeping set up (as in all of us having a bed and space!) – and this was two rooms with a close off option. Tom and I had one room with a king and kitchenette and then the kids adjoined with another king room, and a larger kitchen and pull out couch. Our kids liked it a lot. We did not use the amenities at the resort much as we like to get out an explore so I can’t speak to those much. As much as we liked this resort, I am intrigued about staying at another part of the island the next time we go back. I liked the location for sure, but would prefer an area that wasn’t so busy with tons of resorts. The running path in front of the resort was great and the room noise was excellent- great soundproofing.

Let’s talk about what we did! With the time change (3 hour time difference), we kicked off our first day strong! We booked ahead of our trip with Sail Trilogy – I chose the Sail Kaanapali as the dock was a 10 minute drive from us. We bring our own snorkel equipment, but you can also use theirs. Totally amazing trip! The team on the boat was above and beyond in customer service and we had both breakfast and lunch on the boat. The best part for us is the snorkel- and our boys even tried something new to us called Snuba.

One of the things we loved about this experience was it’s about 6 hours on the water and they also have a professional photographer on the boat! I brought my axisgo case for my phone which some of these are from – but the really amazing pictures are by Leo Parias Photography. Later that same day, we went to Monkeypod which had been referred by many friends. It’s in Whaler’s Village and was nice- but it was SO LOUD. Our food was good but we were worn out. I have heard their mai tais are awesome.

The next day, we drove south to have Tom take a surf lesson with Maui Surf.
Tom was super excited about this and my parents gave him a private lesson as a gift! He liked his instructor Miles but wished he could have caught more waves. It was a good intro to surfing and it led to him renting a board later in our trip!

Tom learning to surf
Kapalua Bay

We also stopped at Leoda’s as their pies are all the rave! We got a lime pie and a banana creme and I loved both! Their menu for sandwiches looked great too. Mid day, we stumbled upon Paia Fish Market in Lahaina and we all LOVED our food. The casual atmosphere and such fresh fish made it a repeat visit for us (two lunches, two days in a row!) They also served a beer called Bikini Blonde which I really liked. Late afternoon, we drove north to Kapalua beach. This are is stunning and this beach is a little slice of heaven. Driving around this area was gorgeous! The Honolua General Store had everything you can imagine and it was next door to Sansei Sushi where we planned on eating, but we got there right at 5:15 (they open then) and the line was over 75? people. Dead serious. We ended up finding The Fish Market Maui and it was delicious and fresh! The menu offerings reminded my husband of Bob Chinn’s menu in Wheeling – but this place is small and you eat quickly!

Whale spotting on Sail Maui

The other excursion we did was a Sunset Cruise on Xmas eve with Sail Maui. This was a gorgeous night as you will see from my sunset picture. We saw many whales and had cocktails on a beautiful night- nothing to complain about!

Amazing Sunset on Christmas Eve

We were sad to leave on Christmas Day! Having never been to Maui, I would love to return for a trip where we stay the entire time just on this island!

I will upload my Kauai photos in the next couple of days as well and share our favorite spots! It was an awesome return trip!

october updates

October 23, 2018

slpyI am officially posting almost daily @theconciergemom on insta- but decided I would do a summary here for those of you who like to click and SHOP!

Here is what I have added recently- gift ideas-

Sara Happ Lip Slip– Latest and greatest thing in my purse- my friend Amy told me about this the other night! Actually stays on for me and has a little shine.

Glass Artist markers– When you don’t use stemware often, these come in handy! Makes an awesome hostess gift and wipes right off in the dishwasher or by hand.

LuminoLite– I have bought 4 of these lights in the last 2 months! Initially I was just getting creative for my kids to read before bed- and I thought they would think it was fun! Then we shared a hotel room as a family and I borrowed one and loved it. Did I mention they charge by cable? So easy. Side note- I had to remove this from my 6 year olds room when we put her to bed as I found her awake and playing with her toys by it at 10:30 pm one night!

The Clapper– yep. remember this? Well, our middle son put this on his xmas list one year. It really is awesome! Plus kids love to clap when they walk in a room and have a light turn on!

Capri Blue Aloha Orchid diffuser– aloha! Do you love the smell of orchids? I found this locally and have multiple in my house! They also sold the hand lotion which I keep in my purse. It’s like a mini vacay to Hawaii!

Produce bags– I wish everyone used these. I can’t believe we are still using plastic bags at the store for every bag of produce we purchase! I store these in my car so it’s a no brainer.

CATS! cat headbands– My daughter LOVES cats! I am allergic so these headbands came into our lives and get compliments everywhere we go! Plus- the colors! So cute and price point is cheap. 3 years later, we still have at least half!

Sports blanket! Was at Scheels and my son saw a wall of these blankets- of course he wanted a Cubs one- but all teams are represented! SO SOFT! And price point is great for any sports fan!

Vitafusion- Hair, Skin and Nails– Not only do these taste really good, they WORK! My nails change whenever I take these! Sold at Target or you can buy online. Keep away from your kids- they love them- and frankly- don’t need longer nails!

Halloween Animated Eyeball doorbell– another Target find! little kids are loving this when they visit. I hung it under our regular doorbell and it even lights up at night!

SLPY wearable sleeping bag– I posted pics on instagram of me wearing this (shown above) and you all either thought this was amazing or ridiculous! I’ll tell you what- when it’s blowing wind and cold and you have an hour and a half to endure cold temps sitting at a game- this is your new BFF. My friend Kelli wore one of these last spring and I asked her many times about it but sat shivering in my winter jacket and lightt blanket. I decided this season- NO MORE. Not only could I sell these out of my trunk, people photographed me and asked for info! You don’t have to wear it long- it cinches at the bottom and you can tuck it under as short as you want. The armholes have zippers too- and you can zip them closed from the inside. Genius. Some designs are great- others are just ugly- but bottomline- get on this for any sports fan! Also sold at– many better desing options than Amazon. Search “Slpy wearable sleeping bag.”

Orolay winter coat– well here it is. The coat that blew up the internet- or amazon. I read about this last year on some instagram story and gave it a go! If you haven’t picked up what I am putting down, I’m tired of being cold. And this thing doesn’t disappoint. I bought this last summer and had the first opp to wear it 2 weeks ago, I have gotten many compliments on it! Even though it isn’t figure friendly per se- more like a sumo wrestler, but still cute? I can’t describe it. But let’s say I don’t look like the model in the pic! And I’m okay with that.

Patagonia Black Hole Duffles- If you want a heavy duty, great for travel, cool bag- check out this bag. We use our big bag for every weekend that we travel to the mountains or for camping- so durable and TOUGH. Also has backpack straps for easier carrying should you choose. They have water proof versions too. Great gift!

That’s all for today! More recipes coming and lots more on insta if you want to follow along.



i’m back baby

October 2, 2018


Breakfast Burritos- Smitten Kitchen

Shout out to my brother-in-law who fixed my blog in about 5 minutes today after I hadn’t been able to add any content since May! I really can’t believe I didn’t ask him for help earlier. Thank you, Chris!!

So, here’s something new.  I am posting more often on my Instagram account @theconciergemom – it’s easier for me and faster- and maybe it’s easier for you as well! So, please follow me there for lots more gift ideas and recipes, etc. I am trying to post many times a week.

Let’s talk food first. My neighbor Sarah and I are still cooking away every week. Some weeks we phone it in with old standby recipes and other weeks, we try some new ones.  But we have successfully completed over a year of cooking together every week and found some amazing recipes along the way. These are the recent hits:

Korean Bulgogi bbq steak bowls– I have no idea how to say that second word, but it’s amazing. Like lick the plate.  I still think about the peanut sauce!

Roasted Tomatillo Chicken and Rice Bowls– Sarah made so much of this sauce that we used it for days after- I added it to eggs, rotisserie chicken, anything!! Loved it.

Breakfast Burritos– I have wanted to make these for a long time and am glad we did! We modified and made roasted potatoes, ground beef, avocado, cheese, black beans and scrambled eggs. We ate them hot so I can’t attest to how they would hold up in the freezer.

other things- well, Christmas is coming- :). Check my instagram for daily ideas and links to shopping. I am sure I will post here too now that Chris reunited me with my blog! Thanks for waiting for me to return.

april successes

April 5, 2018


Hi everyone! Happy Spring!  Here are some new things I have been making, reading and enjoying!

Josie Maran Argan Sugar Balm Body– where has this been the last ten years we’ve been in this dry climate? Love the citrus scent, but even more- how easy it is to shave after I scrub it on and off! Sometimes I follow this with her Body Butter in the citrus scent as well.

Ever since Tom gave the kids his blessing about riding their hover boards in the house (because let’s be honest, Tom wants to ride it in the house too) all our wood trim was cut into, bumped and torn up. Can you tell how I feel about this? Thank goodness, our carpenter told me about Minwax– this thing is THE BOMB. You do need to know your color of wood, but once you do, hand this marker to your kids and have them fill in the areas to look like new. It’s been a game changer for our first floor.

I ordered this fire ladder 20 minutes into the “THIS IS US” fire scene. If you watch the show, you understand.  We will have our first family fire drill this month. Luke is VERY excited about this and I worry that he will use this to sneak out one day! The biggest takeaway to that episode is that I started talking to the kids of what they’d do if there was a fire and everyone had a different answer. And one of my kids said they would run to a park about 2 blocks away from the fire- not the best meeting spot! Now we have a PLAN.

Great reads:

Dragonfruit– this endorsement is LONG overdue! I learned so much about Hawaiian monarchy in this book- and loved the love story and characters to boot. I couldn’t wait for the kids to go to bed to read more! When we traveled to Hawaii in November, my oldest son was referencing Hawaiian history he had learned in school and I was following along thanks to this book! My husband definitely did a double take when I knew what I was talking about! Mattoch describes all the smells and feelings of Hawaii perfectly. Would read again now that we visited so recently .

The Great Alone– since I loved The Nightingale, I figured this would be worth a try. Well, I read this in 10 hours. Loved the location, and the relationships of the characters on this remote island in Alaska. Grab tissues.

Great food:

Fish Tacos– YUM!!! My neighbor Sarah and I have been busy cooking away and this was a total hit last week. Sarah bought cod and we did this in a non-stick pan on the stove. I loved the marinated onions!! So easy- have always been impressed by them when they are in my restaurant tacos but now I know how easy it is to make them myself!  Sarah then made a Corn Slaw from this recipe as a side- so good!

Sweet Chili Coconut- Lime Grilled Chicken with Coconut- Lime Cauliflower Rice– very easy. I bought the Cauliflower rice pre-chopped at Sprouts and we prepared the chicken in strips on my stove top. Kids loved it. We made a batch of regular jasmine rice and this rice as another option too.

Pan-Seared Pork Tenderloins– This rub is fast and we cooked this in the oven instead of stove top. Cooking Light mag.  Lime, Soy and Maple Drizzle– we are taking 6 minutes max to make this and you offer it as a drizzle over the pork or a dip! Savory Sweet Potato Mash– I will be making this soon for company! Delicious side.

More another day! School pick up is required. 🙂








staying in scottsdale

March 2, 2018

For some reason, I keep heading to Scottsdale! I actually know why- the weather is very consistent, its a quick flight from Denver and there are some great resorts and restaurants- along with some awesome hikes!

So many of us travel here and I wanted to put my favorites in one place-

I have stayed in a lot of resorts here- hard to say which is my favorite- so I’ll go through some I have been at recently:

Hyatt at Gainey Ranch– my friend Heather and I took our kids here 2 summers ago- and it was HOT. The rate was sweet (because it was so HOT!) and we had a three bedroom suite with access to the Regency Club which was key as the we ate there all. day. long. Heather and I joked that we possibly made money going there as our flights were so cheap and the room was reasonable- but we fed the kids for FREE almost everyday. I would say this was just average- our room wasn’t very updated and nothing was extraordinary here.  The pool is cool with half sand and half pool. Kids loved the slides. We tried to rent the bikes offered there but that was when service really failed- no one could help us and all tires were deflated, etc. Made for a funny memory with the kids as they laugh at the terrible experience.


The kids happy in the pool AGAIN on a very hot June day, Hyatt Gainey Ranch

The Fairmont Princess– a friend of mine stays here annually with her family so Tom and I checked it out for one night. We were pleasantly surprised as I usually don’t like huge resorts! Our room was great and the pools were huge and many- I could see us going back here with our kids. We loved eating at Hacienda – the Mexican restaurant on property- we have been back on other trips too. Our breakfast was one of our favorite here- an egg white burrito with quinoa, black bean and avocado!  Seems like a great family spot.

Canyon Suites at the Phoenician– went here with my mom and sisters for a girls weekend. Our room was enormous with a beautiful view. The suites is set off from the other part of the Phoenician- a little more private and it’s own pool. Service was great and breakfasts were really amazing. Workout center was good too! We played tennis here and the hotel van will drive you most places for hikes or shopping. We loved our visit here.

The Four Seasons at Troon North– just stayed here last month as Tom and I had seen it when we drove out to Tom’s Thumb. It’s definitely set out a ways, which has it’s own appeal. Hiking is right out your door- literally- Pinnacle Peak was right out our window and a great morning hike for my sister and me. Just loved it! The views and setting are quiet and beautiful. Pools are smaller but it’s a small resort. Service was GREAT. Loved loved the workout room and spa was incredible. If you go there, request Art for a massage!


Four Seasons


Pool view at Four Seasons

Arizona Biltmore – Tom and I stayed here last April. I wanted to stay here for the architecture and we had a ton of Hilton points! We got upgraded which made for a beautiful room and a private pool. There were about 4 other people at the pool on any of the 4 days we spent at the Hilton. We didn’t eat a meal there- but loved the proximity to all the restaurants we like. Seemed like such a fast drive to anywhere we wanted to go except hiking.

The Sanctuary Camelback Mountain– Tom and I stayed here 3 years ago and had so much fun. One of my favorite restaurants anywhere is Elements so I had been to the resort for dinner many times but not stayed. Well, it’s very cool. I would not bring kids here as it;s not kid friendly and the pool is miniature. Loved playing tennis on the courts that overlook the whole valley! And, our room was nice and big- but I think they were updating shortly after we left which would have been good. The spa and workout rooms were totally awesome. They are known as a wellness spa so they have classes all day long- very fun to do a fitness weekend. Plus, any of the food you eat is EXCELLENT.

praying monk

View of Praying Monk from Sanctuary


I really get into researching before a trip so I have been to some great restaurants here. When I go with my parents and sisters, they let me make all the reservations as does Tom, so I am lucky that way!

Here are some great spots:

Elements– I referenced this above- this is a sexy restaurant. My sister and I felt that part of this restaurant could be on a movie set- and the food is SOOOO good. Oddly enough, the last three times I have eaten there- the servers have been seriously strange and kind of annoying. Hope that is just my experience and will be different next time.

Cafe Monarch– beautiful! stunning! romantic! all of these describe this very small restaurant. We ate outside under the lights and one of my sisters said this is one of the most memorable meals she’s had.


Cafe Monarch

Chelsea’s Kitchen – YUM! We were told to go here from a friend of Tom’s for the short ribs- and he was RIGHT. We ate outside on the back patio and had awesome cocktails and delicious short ribs and ceviche. We went here twice in 4 days. AND, fresh chocolate chip cookies at the door on your way out. Lots of families eating here.

La Grande Orange– another rec from a friend of Tom’s – I was so so on the name so I was so so on going there. I was wrong. Loved this great place of delicious breakfasts and lunch! I had an awesome lemon prosciutto pizza my first time and Tom had breakfast burrito. The NEXT day, we had a rotisserie chicken sandwich and their cookies- all so good. The gift store inside is cool too- I like the whole vibe and could see Ft Collins pulling this off.

Blanco Tacos + Tequila– I found this place through positive reviews online. Tom and I wanted something easy and simple this one night after we’d hiked one day.  We thought the tacos were really good and the skinny marg was tasty! Awesome service.

True Food Kitchen– We have this in Denver and I love it. Fun to eat here with or without kids. Fresh and delicious.

The Gladly– My sister never asks to go anywhere in particular on a trip. This was her one ask last month and so we went! They are famous for their Gladly salad- which she really enjoyed. We went for lunch- it was great service and a great menu. We all liked our meals.

The Mission–  My friend Jeff told me about this place- and Heather and I took our kids which may have been a mistake. Beautiful restaurant but very sophisticated menu. Our kids struggled. Heather and I didn’t! Would go back with adults only.


So, for years and years, we did Camelback. Frankly, tough on my knees and grinding! I thought it was the only thing to do. WRONG! Tom and I loved Tom’s Thumb and Wendy and I loved Pinnacle Peak. I can’t wait to explore more with Tom on our next visit. It’s so beautiful to get out when a park opens and get our workout in!


Tom’s Thumb

That’s all at this point. Please tell me any of your favorite spots- I plan on continuing to visit!






put your apron on

February 7, 2018


I have had so many recipes being texted among friends! We are cooking!!!

Here are some standouts for me-

Coconut Curry Shrimp– PW in the house!! I love her. Anyways, easy and delicious. Make some white rice to pour it over and lick the bowl!

Crock Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup– IGE – another favorite of mine- now, for those of you who know me well, I don’t crock pot in this house! My mom was a WONDERFUL cook but the only nights my sisters and braced ourselves for dinner — was when we smelled dinner in the crockpot. NOT good. Tom happens to share my view on this so we don’t go there- so I made this version in my dutch oven. I liked it A LOT. Tom thought it was too salty so I  would use no salt broth next time. I sent this to some friends and the amount of positive reviews via text was HIGH.

PF Changs Mongolian Beef Copycat Recipe– YUMMMMM! Sarah (my neighbor who I cook with)  and I made this and did decide to run water over the steak to get off some of  the cornstarch but that could have been my fault. The sauce is awesome. We put over white rice and also added Sesame Chicken Potstickers which everyone loved. Tom said this was one of my top meals… ever.

I haven’t made this yet- but my friend Julie said it’s a must! Detox Turmeric Lentil Soup. On my list!

Salmon with Honey Pecan Sauce- this is a new favorite for us. So easy and so delicious.

Cauliflower Bolognese– my friend Holly said she used a pre-riced cauliflower/broccoli/carrot mixture from Target.

And now, we what we all love-

Chocolate Lava Cakes– you think this is hard- WRONG! Easy, can prep it ahead and then pop in oven when you  are ready to cook. Great Valentine’s dessert for all.

Browned Butter Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats– from my friend Holly- she fully endorses!

Keep sending me recipes- I’m in a groove these days and with my cooking sidekick, Sarah, we are trying lots of recipes we tore out years ago.





visiting Madrid- sights to see

January 23, 2018

Hola! I joined Tom on a quick trip to Madrid last week and wanted to share my experiences and finds. I am a big researcher when it comes to trips! I love it! I always spend a ton of time on Trip Advisor and was hoping I would see a review from a friend but came up with nothing! I ended up reading all sorts of blogs and even looking it up on Pinterest which was very helpful- so I have decided to put this on my blog to help any of you who may travel there in the future.


The Principal Madrid


First, let’s begin with the hotel – I went around in circles trying to find “the one”. We like small, boutique hotels in a location where we can walk to all the sights. I settled on The Principal Madrid and we loved it. They arranged a private walking tour for me on the day I arrived (Tom was working that day) and it was perfect. I worked with Rosa- she was an awesome guide! We walked for three hours and ended our tour by the Royal Palace with some hot chocolate – which really is a whole cup of warm chocolate and a spoon. Ideal! Rosa’s email is and if you go to Madrid, book a tour with her! She was incredible.


Rosa, my guide

The first day I was there, we walked through many neighborhoods and saw many of the big sights. This helped me get the lay of the land so when Tom and I explored later, I had a sense of where I was!

One of my favorite sights were the Mercado de San Miguel  – not only is it a stunning glass building, but the food was displayed so beautifully. You can grab anything quick here or enjoy a glass of wine and stay awhile. It is next door to Plaza Mayor.


Plaza Mayor

madrid painter

Artist in Plaza Mayor


Mercado de San Miguel


Mercado de San Miguel

Many blogs told me to visit Circulo Belles Artes for the view over Madrid. We had an amazing rooftop on our hotel but I figured I should still go check it out. We laughed when we put the location in our phone and it was across the street! Didn’t seem necessary to pay the euros to cross the road and look the other way so we didn’t. I imagine that in the summer, that’s a good bar and a good view to visit!


Our view from The Principal Madrid at night (Metropolis Building)

Tom and I walked through Retiro Park and through the neighborhood of Salamanca. I thought Retiro Park was beautiful, especially the Palacio de Cristal.– WOW! madridretiropark

This picture really doesn’t do it justice. When I told Tom we were going to walk to the Crystal Palace, he joked that it could be like Star Wars, but this is all Sound of Music. You can walk in but the line was LONG and let’s just put it out there- Tom didn’t seem as excited as I was!

When Tom and I travel, we like to exercise and eat. I find that I have many pictures of the food from this trip! YUM! Our favorite things to eat and drink in Spain are the iberian ham, pan con tomate, wine, sangria, and tortilla espanola – we actually took a cooking class and made it in Barcelona- I wrote about that trip here– ! Ham sandwiches are everywhere, and I got one everyday. Get yours “caliente” and you will love it! I bought mine at OINK (seriously, that is the name) which was near our hotel. We also enjoyed a great meal of roasted chicken over pistachio risotto at Lobby Market near our hotel one night.

The picture on the left is a very small part of our hotel breakfast buffet which was very hard to resist from a calorie standpoint. The lunch on the right was at the ME hotel– we really liked Ana La Santa– so much we had two glasses of sangria and we left without paying the bill! This was remedied when the waiter found us outside in the plaza still wandering around 5 minutes later!


Churros from Chocolateria San Gines, open 24 hours!


Our hotel restaurant, El Atico- gorgeous!

Our favorite food and view was … wait for it- from the 9th floor of El Corte Ingles! They have The Gourmet Experience and the food and views are AWESOME! When I told Tom I wanted to go to this big department store for food, I can tell he was suspect! Well, one visit lead to a second one the next night, suggested by… TOM! Definitely go up there- they have all sorts of food from all over the world and excellent wine and outside rooftop which you can see all over Madrid.

Other stops included the Prado Museum (free at 7 pm on Mondays) and the Palacio Real- something you cannot begin to imagine size wise- it’s Europe’s largest Palace. Next to the Palace is the Cafe de Oriente, where I had hot chocolate with Rosa which was like being invited into someone’s well decorated home. Cozy and chic!


The Royal Palace is behind this statue. It is even bigger than you can imagine- this photo doesn’t show the size!

We also walked El Rastro market which is very boho and wasn’t exciting like I remembered it. When Tom and I visited it about 15 years ago, there were many antiques and cool stuff that I wanted! Not sure if we hit the wrong streets this time, but most of what we saw was tourist stuff. It is on Sundays, 10- 3 pm.


Love all these old doors around Madrid. This was right outside Chocolateria San Gines


This was the old post office. My guide, Rosa, told me Spain accepted 2000 refugees. Loved the sign. This is where REAL Madrid celebrates their victories after a game!

I think that’s it- I put together my must-do list from searching madrid on pinterest and really loved Lauren on Location blog. 


Selfie in front of Tom’s favorite building- The Metropolis


One last parting shot! View from our breakfast at The Principal Madrid

Hope this helps some of you plan a great trip to Madrid! Adios!