We had a gorgeous mid-summer weekend… in April! We hit a high of 29℃ (84℉). Unheard of this time of year. Even more amazing after the snowstorms just weeks ago. We took full advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and headed outside as much as possible.

Saturday night Nestor (Extra #5,673, 212) and I took a stroll around “our monastery” while dinner cooked in the oven (recipe coming up!). The kloster is my favorite place to go for a walk, to take pictures, to find peace & beauty. Everyone I take, including kids, teens & extra’s, fall in love as well. It is magical.

The sun was just starting to set, one of my favorite times of day to whip my camera out. Nestor is still amazed, and cooperative, that someone wants to take pictures of him.  We had a perfect little walk through the grounds. Me alternating shots of Nestor with shots of the kloster and the setting sun. Both of us happy. Relaxed. At peace.

We came home to a delicious smelling house. I’d tried a new recipe for Shakshuka. I’d seen it made on several different cooking shows, but I never remembered the name, and I never remembered I needed raz el hanout to make it. So every time I saw it again, my house was empty of raz el hanout.

Last week we accidently wound up in France. Turns out the French border is 30 miles from my house. My favorite French grocery store, Carrefour, is 32 miles from my house. Who knew? Not me.

We’d driven west 45 minutes to pick up car paperwork for Cole’s car. He’d lost Teil 1 of his registration. Why car registration is on two different mission-critical pieces of paper is beyond me. But out west we drove. I had google maps up, I’d only been there once before, and suddenly noticed the thick black line snaking across my screen. I took a closer look. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Yep. We were 5 minutes from France.

Ten minutes after getting a copy of Cole’s registration, I was strolling the aisles of my favorite grocery store, happily adding buy-one-get-one wine bottles to the shopping cart. I added macarons for Tess. Brie & baguettes for Cole (and me). Fruit shoots for Dane and a cartful of favorite French foods & snacks we just can’t get in Germany… 5 minutes away.

Suddenly I spotted baggies filled with exotic spices. For a euro! Maybe two euro’s. I started stocking up, what a deal, these baggies hold maybe 4X what a McCormick’s shaker holds. My hand grabbed a baggie marked raz el hanout. I paused. What is raz el hanout? I had no idea. I just knew I needed it. In the cart it went.

A couple of days later I finally googled what to make with raz el hanout and up came Shakshuka. It is a north-African dish of tomato stew with poached eggs on top. Simple. Healthy. I had the ingredients. I cut up all my veggies, added a leek that needed eating, and left it to stew on the stove while Nestor and I took our sunset stroll.

I didn’t have bread in house, or time to wait for a loaf to rise, rise again and bake, so I had made some quick hasselback potatoes and popped them in the oven. When Nestor & I got back, I made nests in the Shakshuka, cracked 10 eggs and let them poach for 10 minutes while I set the table and rounded up kids.

Shaksuka is a new family favorite. Wow! Love.