Five years ago today, we sat in a lounge at the Doubletree Hotel in Rochester, Minnesota, and published our first-ever blog post on postcardjar.com. It was the day before I would undergo a procedure at the Mayo Clinic that would eventually diagnose me with a chronic inflammatory disease. Steve was still working as a middle school principal and we needed a little inspiration distraction in our lives. To date, that post has only been read 290 times. Yet five years later, our blog is garnering tens of thousands of page views each month, we are traveling to places we’ve never been, and we are making the most of midlife, despite my health challenges.

Mayo Clinic

We cannot thank all of our readers enough for following along on our journey and being so engaged with our blog. We love reading your comments, answering your questions, and getting your postcards in the mail. In case you’re new here or missed something along the way, here’s a look back at some of the highlights of our fifth year of blogging.

Our trip to Italy

We spent about a month in Italy and Greece last Summer, learning about wine production, eating pasta and spanakopita, and immersing ourselves in the culture. Steve wrote about his Tuscan food coma and I blogged about a unique wine tasting in the woods and one of our cooking classes there.

Montepulciano, Italy

One of our favorite parts of that trip was our visit with our hosts Deb and Massi to Valdobbiadene, Italy, where Prosecco wine is made. Here are of stories we wrote about it.

Prosecco Road Tip #1 – Hire a driver and guide

Prosecco Road Tip #2 – Stay at an agritourismo

Prosecco Road Tip #3 – Get to know your wine

Prosecco Road Tip #4 – Savor the food

Prosecco Road Tip #5 – Visit Cartizze Hill 

Cooking with The Chef and the Dish

We were thrilled when a Canadian company called The Chef and the Dish called us to ask if we’d be interested in a partnership. As soon as they said they’d like to connect us with and Italian chef via Skype to learn to make dishes featuring Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, we were in. We invited our friends, Jeff and Ciana, to join us for Chef Paola’s lessons on how to make delicious bruschetta, strawberry risotto and poached pears.

Whole meal with The Chef & The Dish

A few months later, they invited Ann and our friend Cyndi (Hyacinth) Kane (aka The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond’s BFF) to learn to prepare paella with Chef Ana from Spain. Both experiences were unforgettable and we highly recommend trying a class with The Chef and The Dish.

Launching a new website

In late summer, we bit the bullet and hired someone to help us design a new (and improved) website. With the help of Kelly Diekmann and KDesign, we went from 86 categories to 18 (no joke), changed our home page, and added a whole “work with us” section and our Instagram feed. We love the new design and functionality of our site and y’all seem to spend more time here now.

 

An introduction to Iowa

In the fall, we spent a week driving through Iowa and exploring new towns. We found 15 photo-worthy stops in Grinnell and had a fantastic stay at Hotel Grinnell, which was once a junior high school. Pinter’s Gardens and Pumpkins near Decorah provided us with a great place to play, and we tasted a coffee-flavored beer at Pivo Brewery in tiny Calmar.

Our last stop was in Clear Lake, Iowa, where we found all kinds of things to do in the offseason and had lunch at one of our favorite delis, the Starboard Market.

5,000 mile road trip across the south

In January, we escaped the cold of winter in the midwest and headed south for long road trip. We spent more than a month stopping at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Walmart Museum in Bentonville, Ark. We visited Greenville, Miss., where Steve got his start in teaching and had got a seat in the kitchen of the original Doe’s Eat Place.

Doe's Eat Place dinner

We still have lots more to write about this trip, including our visit to the Georgia Aquarium, our time in the Florida Keys, and our cruise aboard the Celebrity Edge, so stay tuned.

A home in Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Of course, we wrote several posts about Pawhuska, Oklahoma, home of The Pioneer Woman and now us. Yes, we bought a house there in August and have been fixing it up and spending more and more time there. Steve wrote a blog post about 8 things for men to do while their wives shop at The Mercantile, and we confessed that we’ve slept around Pawhuska, including several nights in The Pioneer Woman Boarding House. We seem to get lots of readers who are searching the internet for things to do in Pawhuska and we’re very proud to have the second most popular blog in in town.

Photograph Room bed

As we look back on year five, we are so grateful for the incredible opportunities we’ve had. Not only have we traveled to great places, tried interesting foods, and had unforgettable experiences, we’ve also been blessed by the people we’ve met along the way. Whether we’ve met in person or over the internet, we are so thankful for each of you. Your continued support and encouragement of our blog is just amazing. We hope you know that you mean the world to us.

  • We had such an incredible time on our first visit to North Dakota. We spent time in Williston, Watford City, Medora, Dickinson, and Bismarck and can't wait to come back to explore more of the state. ⁣
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There are so many unexpected things to do in North Dakota. We especially enjoyed the Medora Musical, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and the North Dakota Heritage Center and Museum. #hosted
  • This house-made carrot cake at the Williston Brewing Company in @visitwilliston, @NorthDakotaLegedary tastes even better than it looks! Who wants a bite of this moist cake, three layers high with fresh strawberries and caramel sauce? Um, we do.
  • One of the quirkiest stops we've ever come across is Carhenge, near Alliance, Nebraska. Over a couple of weeks, a family decided to recreate the world-famous Stonehenge out of junked cars. Using farm implements, they constructed a replica that even has a heel stone...errr...car. In so doing, they created a must-see roadside attraction for anyone traveling across the United States.
  • Ann stands next to one of the huge rocks at Toadstool Geologic Park in Nebraska. The unique geology of this park happened because a hard rocky layer sat atop a soft under layer. As the soft layer erodes, huge rocks are left standing in unique positions.
  • You gotta start somewhere...⁣
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In all journeys in life, you must start somewhere. Here we were at Mile Marker 0 in Key West about 70 pounds (between the two of us) ago. Our journey isn't over, but we're on our way to a healthier lifestyle. @noom
  • These cucumber-salmon bites were a perfect taste treat for a bridal shower Ann hosted recently. She started with a slice of cucumber, then a bit of salmon topped with a dollop of cream cheese and dill.
  • ...Why don't you come with me, little girl, on a Magic Carpet ride...⁣
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One of the most unique features of the new @celebritycruise Edge is the Magic Carpet, a platform that moves up and down the side of the ship and serves different purposes at each stop. There is something truly special about sitting directly over the sea and looking back at the ship while you sip a delicious cocktail.
  • This prosciutto pizza served overlooking the Amalfi Coast is the stuff dreams are made of. The homemade crust, hand tossed before being baked to thin perfection in a wood oven. The sauce and cheese were so fresh it brought tears to our eyes. And the prosciutto was sliced thin enough to be translucent. This is what pizza is supposed to be.

Second most popular blog in Pawhuska