German Knockwurst In Beer Broth

I don’t know what is going on with me lately but I am on a roll with my German cooking! I promised myself I would try harder to learn these great dishes of Toblerone’s culture..anticipating one day that we have children of our own to share it all with. So far, looks like I’m living up to that promise!

The other day I found a package of German Knockwurst at our grocery store (made by Boar’s Head company) which I liked since it was in it’s natural casing with zero additives. I hate all that “added caramel” for color plus 8,000 extra chemicals. Just trying to stick to what is clean and good! (The German way of course!)

I wasn’t sure what I would make with Knockwurst but there is one thing I know…nothing goes better with Wurst than….yep…you guessed it….BEER!!!

What You Need:

Knockwurst (I used a pacakge of 4 for our smaller family)

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Medium onion sliced

12 ounces of light beer (I used a can of Labatt blue…cuz I’m classy like that!)

1 Cup water

Salt & Pepper to taste

Parsley

 

Here’s How Its Done: 

First off, heat up a dutch oven with olive oil on medium heat. Add the wurst to oil, turning every couple of minutes to brown each side. I would highly recommend putting the lid on. These suckers spit hot oil at me!

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Next up, add the onions until they are soft. I added just a little extra splash of olive oil. Again, lid on and occasionally stirring them around and turning the sausages.

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Once onions are cooked through, remove the sausage and place aside. Next comes the fun part…or as some might see it…alcohol abuse. Pour in your 12 ounces of beer! I mean…if you ended up only pouring in 10 ounces because you were feeling a bit thirsty throughout the ordeal, that would be ok too! (I did it. No shame!)

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As the beer starts cooking up and the fumes start to slightly intoxicate you…add in your salt, pepper, and parsley to taste! Add your cup of water  and bring to a boil. Once boiling put on low heat and let simmer until reduced and you no longer smell the alcohol. This takes about 12-15 minutes.

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Once reduced, add back in your sausage and keep on low heat. Just need to heat the sausages through.

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While that continued to warm up, I made my homemade Spätzle and warmed up some Sauerkraut to complete the meal. If you want a thicker sauce you can certainly add a little sauce thickener or cornstarch and water mixture. I didn’t do that to mine, I liked it as it was but to each his own!

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There ya have it! It’s a really simple dish which requires very few ingredients. Let’s be honest…most of which you probably have in your home already!

Let me know if you try it out or what you would do to change it up!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

 

 

 

The True (Southern) German Potato Salad

I know you’ve seen me post pictures of this on my Facebook Page so I figured it was time to spill the secret.  German Potato Salad is made two ways from what I’ve learned while living in Germany. There is the way the northerners make it and the way the southerners make it. The one ingredient that makes the difference, mayo. Thankfully, for my waistline I lived in the South where they opted out of using mayonnaise for this very common dish!

Many moons ago I asked Toblerone’s mom for her recipe for Kartoffelsalat and she wrote it out for me. I use it like there is nothing else in the world that matters. That stays with me in a special place. If I ever lost it, I would be lost. There is something about having a recipe handwritten that makes it feel more like a sacred piece of family history.  Same goes for recipes my mom has written.

On with it already, Kaitlin.

First things first…the ingredients here in the US are not exact but I will try to help you through it best I can!

You will need:

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Note: Some people cheat and use this little package by Knorr to “fix” Potato salad (See little packet on the right hand side of the picture.) We are doing things the original way today!

 

Potatoes – peeled, and cut in half if they are large. I normally use about 7-8 potatoes just for the two of us (Toblerone loves his leftovers!), or an entire 1lb bag or more for larger groups. (I use the yellow/golden potatoes. They are closest to the potatoes in Germany. Yes…even those are different.)

1 Onion – chopped in small pieces. (This time around I used a red onion for color. )

Vegetable Oil

Distilled white vinegar

Salt

Pepper

2 Tablespoons Vegetable Bouillon (powdered if you can find it. Mixed in warm water – about a 1/2 cup.) I use Knorr Delikatess Brühe (shown below) which you can find on many German import food websites. If you want to get the taste correct, trust me…you need this stuff. I’ve tried others I found in the import aisles at grocery stores and its all sorts of wrong. Threw out many batches because of this small ingredient!

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How it’s done:

Peel your potatoes and cut in half. They will cook faster when they are smaller. Place in pot and boil until soft or a knife goes through easily.

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Chop the onion in small pieces and throw into a large bowl. I always use my tupperware bowls because that would be very un-German of me if I didn’t use my tupperware.

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Once potatoes are done, drain water. Let sit until they aren’t scorching. If they are still warm I rinse them off with cold water before handling. DO NOT BURN YOURSELVES. IT’S NOT WORTH IT!!!! Once cooled, you will grab a potato and with a knife almost shave the potato over the bowl until it is in small pieces.

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Should look like this at the end:

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Now, here is where the recipe gets a little confusing. There are no real measurements. This is a “feel-it-out” situation as is any good recipe. First add the vinegar. I usually make a circle as I pour and that is usually enough to start. You don’t want a big pour. Little at a time is better so you can taste test it. Too much is hard to correct. Start small.

Next up, add the Bouillon that is premixed in warm water . Also in a circular motion.  Add your salt and pepper…also a taste as you go thing.

At the end I do the same with the oil. Circular motion. The idea is not to make the potatoes swim. It’s a salad after all…not a soup, people!! A lot of the watery bits will soak into the Potatoes but you don’t want a puddle at the bottom of your bowl.

Mix gently to get the flavors going.

Most important part of the process….LET IT SIT. Do not touch it. Let it sit on the counter for a while. Not in the fridge. Not in the garage. Just let it sit. Let the flavors work into it. Potato salad is served room temperature in Germany. So be German and do just that. Afterwards of course, whatever is left….if there is any left you can place in the fridge.

And…TA DA! There you have it….You just learned how to make a very Swabian styled Potato Salad. I bet your Omi would be oh so proud!

Guten Appetit!!!

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Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxo

 

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The German Cream Cheese Phenomenon

Yes. Cheese. Specifically Cream Cheese. Just work with me here…

To me, cream cheese is typically in the All-American household. We obviously are known for loving bagels and we all know that bagels are just NO BUENO without a big old glob of cream cheese on it. Besides the bagel situation, I was always a big cream cheese and jelly fan (mom can attest to that!) Its good for cooking as well. Some use it in sauces to thicken it and make it creamy and of course we can’t forget my birthday cake, chocolate chip cheesecake!!!

I actually don’t even know why I’m talking about this when I’m doing this special diet that does NOT allow any kind of cream cheese.

In Germany, cream cheese, known as frischkäse, is used as a spread on sandwiches among a few other things. I used to LOVE picking out a new flavor at the grocery store. There is just this mass amount of options it was amazing! I noticed here in the States it’s lacking in options which is weird considering we are the cream cheese capital of the world! The differences of course are that here in the US the flavors are strawberry, honey, and other sweeter options.

In Germany, it was option after option of tasty cream cheeses! Yes, so much that it means I need to write a blog post about this. People, we need to come together and ask Kraft Philadelphia to give us the SAME cream cheese options and rights as the Germans! Our palettes deserve a bit more variety!!

Check out these amazing options…brace yourself…there are definitely way more than is offered here. But it definitely is interesting to see how they offer different options for the different demographics!


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From top left to right

1. Regular – Light (Low Fat)

2. Regular – Balance

3. Regular – Double Cream (Extra Creamy)

4. Regular –  Lactose Free

5. Regular – Yogurt

6. Herbs – Balance

7. Herbs – Double Cream (Extra Creamy)

8. Herbs – Light (Low Fat)

9. Chive

10. Horseradish

11. Feta and Cucumber

12. Spring Onion and pepper

13. Pepper Chili

14. Sweet Chili

15. Grilled pepper

16. Smoked Salmon with Dill

17.  Milka (chocolate in Germany like Hershey’s is for us.)

18. Milka with Hazelnut

19. Honey

 

So they are missing another one from this list that I always saw: ham…lol..ham flavored cream cheese. Awesome.

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As you can see there are only 3 sweet options. The Milka one I will say tastes EXACTLY like chocolate chip cheesecake. It’s a diet KILLER! Only had it once but it was the very best thing ever.

I tried to find a similar picture of the American versions but unsuccessful.  However, I compiled a quick list for comparison:

1. Strawberry

2. Blueberry

3. Garden Vegetable

4. Chive & Onion

5. Jalapeno

6. Chipotle

7. Brown sugar and Cinnamon

8. Milk Chocolate

9. Dark Chocolate

10. Honey Pecan

11. Smoked Salmon

12. Pineapple

 

There is a limited edition I know they have which is pumpkin and cinnamon too. I’m sure there are others. But Pineapple? Thats just gross. You can see there are 7 sweet options as opposed to the 3 that Germany has. America….work with me here. We need more options!!! Too much sugar goin round!

What do you think? Would you try all the options that are available in Germany? Which ones are strange to you? What would you like to see here in the US?

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxo

 

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Let The Renovations Begin!

Maybe it has something to do with the winter time and the fact that I want to be inside…ALL.DAY.LONG. The bug to change the world has hit me…or actually maybe starting a bit smaller is key and that has led me to begin renovations on my home!

As you know I completed the guest rooms minus a few decorating items but at least those two rooms are done and the doors stay closed until people come to visit (hint, hint!) On to the bigger projects where I actually have to focus and take my time because these are the rooms that people actually see a lot more.

First up is the living room!! Pinterest inspiration struck again and I decided with this house I really need to stay in-tune with myself and my style. I am a “coastal” girl and I should just allow that to happen! Light blues, creams, and seashells galore! Gotta bring a little bit of the ocean into my mid-west life here. Thankfully, the German husband of mine is just cool with whatever I do! :-)

So I saw this picture on Pinterest which you can find it’s original place on the House Of Turquoise Blog here. 1067883302_oXKVM-OThis is the idea! And although I can’t exactly do it JUST like that it was a great start for inspiration!

Previous walls in the living room were in my opinion dark blue. Nothing wrong with dark colors, it just started to depress me. There is only one large window and two smaller ones in this room. Not a whole lot of natural light pouring through so it was important to me that we lighten it up…A LOT!

I fought with the idea of paint colors and finally landed on THE color. Glass Slipper by Benjamin Moore. I spent hours searching for the right color but every one of them was either too “baby blue” or “too dark.” This color by Benjamin Moore has a hint of green in it so its not going to give you that newborn baby room look.

Benjamin Moore Glass slipper

So all in all it took me to do the entire room in about a week! I know, that seems insane but first, I was all by my little self doing this. I had to take SO many breaks because I also have dog duty and other house duties to attend to. On top of that, I’m scared of heights so being on a ladder was just REALLY challenging for me!

End result – Exhibit A:

Collage 1Collage 2Harley loves his new space :-) He’s going to be 5 tomorrow! Everyone say Happy Birthday to this sweet, cupcake!

End Result – Exhibit B

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So as you can see this simple change turned the room into something different. I actually like to sit in there all day now. No…wait, I actually don’t sit around all day. I’m off doing very productive things because that is what housewives do! :-)

I painted the panel above the fireplace white because I’m having a hard enough time figuring out what to put there. A picture? A clock? An abstract piece of art? A canvas print? It’s not easy! But at least it doesn’t look like its a focal point anymore. So maybe whatever goes there won’t be THAT important.

Also, I painted ALL of the molding…ALL of it.  I couldn’t bare the thought of trying to scrub out all the crayon marks, old pizza, and several other questionable substances I found in my journey.  Another reason why I shouldn’t have children…my OCD does not allow for ANY messes! But doing that simple little thing made this room look like it was just built. Almost. It gave it all a bit of much needed makeover and I’m feeling complete!

Next up: DECORATING!! Will be added a bit of greenery, end tables, lamps, curtains and something for those shelves and above the mantel. Its all getting there! Slowly but surely!

Then on to: DINING ROOM/KITCHEN! Will be adding backsplash, brightening it up as well, and re-staining the cabinets! Wish me luck!

Anyone have any ideas for the space above the mantel? Would love to hear what you got!!!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxo

How To Fly With Your Pup

I’ve been promising people I would write this post since I’ve flown with our Labrador overseas twice now (Poor baby!). So here we are! Finally getting down to the nitty gritty of how to fly with your pup. Most of us can’t afford private jets so this is how it is done!

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Flying to Germany the first time, Harley was ten months old. Just a little itty bitty baby! Except he wasn’t THAT little. If you do have one of those ankle biter dogs (20lbs or less), then buy a carry on bag for him and bring him with you. But those of us with bigger dogs have to do things a bit differently. So first things first!

Going away for a few weeks and want to bring your pet?? DON’T!!

You are only going to make your pup’s life miserable. Do him a favor and find him a place to stay for the time you are away. Unless you are actually moving your life, don’t put your pet through this. It’s very stressful for them and it’s very stressful on you as well. Dogs can get all sorts of issues like reactivity, fear aggression, and social issues. New smells and unfamiliar places can really effect the behavior your dog.

Considering using a pet service??? DON’T!

IMPORTANT! PLEASE READ! Many people have looked into shipping their pet with a specific service. We had visited the offices of PETAIR in Frankfurt and spoke with the manager there. He HIGHLY recommended against shipping our dog with them for one very good reason. These airline services are great for large animals like elephants, horses, or even exotic pets like snakes, etc. For a domestic animal like a dog or cat its not needed. The way these services work is they do all the customs documentation for you but you have to consider that your pet is in their care hours before takeoff and once they do reach their final destination, the animal must stay in the crate behinds the scenes for an additional 4-6 hours JUST to go through customs. Whereas when you ship your dog as “cargo”, he is brought right off the plane with the baggage. No waiting, no customs other than what you go through in the airport.

 

1. CHOOSE AN AIRLINE

Here, let me help you. There are two things you are looking for when choosing a flight.

A. The most direct flight possible: The stress on an animal when having to switch flights is immense. And not to mention, you are not allowed to see them between flights. They can not leave their crate and can not see you. The less time they have to spend alone, the better. (We chose a direct flight from Newark to Zurich. For the second time Frankfurt to Detroit.) Most airlines will state their restrictions or guidelines for traveling with a pet. Do the research before you book a flight.

B. How does the airline handle animals: We checked around at a few and we chose without a shadow of a doubt, Lufthansa. Why? Because even though your pup has to travel in the baggage container doesn’t mean they have to be completely uncomfortable. Lufthansa has an actual specified place for live animals that is climate controlled. Our captain told me after the flight that he kept an eye on the air pressure in the area our Harley was and he really tried to keep the ride as smooth as possible. Very reassuring. Note: Very important that you aren’t flying during extreme weather. Not in hot season: June – August or cold season : December – February.

Harley waiting to go into the airport shortly before his big adventure! One last whiff of German air!

Harley waiting to go into the airport shortly before his big adventure! One last whiff of German air!

Be sure to reserve or book your dog’s flight and to speak with the airline to make sure that all information is connected to your ticket. Each airline only allows a certain amount of animals on each flight.

2. GET A CRATE

This is one of the most important parts. If you do not have the correct size to comfortably fit your dog and for him to be able to stand and turn around in it, the airline reserves the right to deny your dog on the flight. And they have done this so be certain! We got the largest crate possible for our guy to make sure he had enough room. He’s also 86lbs so it works for him.

Harley testing out his crate.

Harley testing out his crate.

Here is a calculator to find the right size crate for your pup: click here

Not all crates come with the water holder and we found a good one on amazon but you can find many at Lixit. More like what you would see in a Gerbil cage but its better that it doesn’t spill all over in a turbulent situation on the plane. Make sure you get one that has a bottle attachment for the crate. Some airlines require that you have water for your animal. Test this out with them prior to the flight as well so they know how to use it.

3. INTRODUCE THE CRATE

If you’re dog is like ours, he doesn’t use a crate at home. He only did when he was potty training in the beginning of his life. Once we had the crate we washed it completely and put a few of his toys and blankets inside. When he would go in the crate, he would get a treat. This helped him associate the crate as a good thing! His is big enough that we could actually sit inside with him so we did that from time to time too. It’s like a little fort! :-)

Harley's crate with his dog bed, blankies, favorite toys, and a shirt with mommy's scent to keep him calm

Harley’s crate with his dog bed, blankies, favorite toys, and a shirt with mommy’s scent to keep him calm

You will want them to get used to the crate and associate it as a “safe” thing several months before you fly.

4. KNOW YOUR AIRPORT

I did all the background research to see if the airports we were flying to had a special “Dog Only” park or grass area. I did the google maps search to also look for any kind of walking area for him. You can also look on the airport’s website or call the information desk at the airport to ask them. Some airports even have dog areas inside the gate area.

5. UPDATE MEDICAL RECORDS

In order to fly anywhere, first it’s important to find out what the restrictions are for that country you are traveling to. Some countries require containment for up to 6 months, which I can’t imagine is enjoyable for the pet or for you. We were flying to Germany and of course back to the US 4 years later. What we needed for both countries was the same.

1. Dog must be micro-chipped.

2. Health records must be up to date with kennel cough and rabies immunizations.

3. You will need a signed health certificate from the veterinarian no more than 10 days before you fly.

4. Check with your vet to make sure that the pup has no illness or any other issues that could restrict him from flying like heart problems or arthritis.

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In Germany they actually gave us a little passport for him with all Harley’s info so that was cute and helpful!

6. TO DRUG OR NOT TO DRUG?

The only time I would suggest you see the vet about medicating your animal before flying would be in EXTREME situations. If your dog is nervous about everything at home, has severe anxiety, has the tendency to bite or attack when in extreme situations then I would say go for it. But if you are to do that…be sure to test the medication on your animal several days before you go. Be prepared that they may not be able to move, they won’t use the bathroom, and are completely lethargic. They won’t sleep..but it will look like they are really messed up.

Harley unable to move after testing out anxiety medication meant for a 35lb dog

Harley unable to move after testing out anxiety medication meant for a 35lb dog

We tested it on our dog but wanted to give him a very small dosage just to take the edge off as this was his second time. The Vet gave us medicine that she would normally give to a 35lb dog. Our dog is 85lbs… so..no harm no foul right? Wrong. We gave him one tablet and he was ridiculous. Couldn’t move from off the floor, we had to put him on the couch. It was awful. I felt so bad! The day of the flight I gave him less than a quarter of a pill and he still did all his crazy things, I think it just took the edge off.

If your dog is too medicated (not walking on his own, lethargic, etc.) the airline will not allow him on the flight. And for good reason.

The reason you shouldn’t medicate your pup is so they can self-regulate. When it’s too cold they won’t know to huddle to stay warm and their heart won’t work as it should to produce energy and warmth. You don’t want this in a plane where no one can get to him. He needs to get up and move a little bit to circulate his blood. He won’t be doing that when medicated. And the result of not being able to do this could be fatal.

 7. EXTRA TIPS AND TRICKS

– The first time around we made the mistake of making the 5 hour drive to Newark airport and then putting ourselves and the pup on a plane ride for 9 hours immediately following. We learned a hard lesson that time as first-timers and flying back to the states we drove the 3 hours to the airport (to get the most direct flight of course) and stayed overnight at the airport hotel with our furry guy. We were able to wake up early, go for a nice walk and have play time before heading to the airport.

Harley relaxing in the airport hotel the night before his big adventure!

Harley relaxing in the airport hotel the night before his big adventure!

– We brought an extra bags of food (thrown into a plastic grocery bag) and brought them in our suitcase and carry on. We knew we would have to invest in food once we arrived so we had quite a bit with us to transfer Harley properly into his new food.

– Stay calm! Dogs pick up on fear and stress from their pet parents. Take a few deep breaths and remain calm.

– On top of the crate place a note and/or a picture of your pup with his family members. Write the information of the flight they will be traveling on so that the workers behind the scenes see him more as a family member and take a little bit more caution.

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So there you have it! Input from a regular old gal who experienced it all first hand! I hope this helps you in your travels wherever you may go with your furry family member. If you have any questions or think I left something out, please let me know in the comments!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxo

 

2014: A Crazy Good Year In Review

Another year has gone by…flown by I should say. I guess when you have big life events, time just seems to coast right on through. I’m ok with that and more importantly I’m really looking forward to 2015 being a pretty low key year. More time for acclimating! :-)

Before I give myself fully to 2015 I wanted to give a proper salute to 2014 by reviewing my favorite memories of the year! I’ve shared many great times between two different countries and strangely enough…Toblerone and I are feeling a bit homesick for Germany. It’s been fun going back through my blog and looking at all the pictures and reliving the moments! Can’t wait to go back there for Easter!!

Here’s a look back into my favorite memories of 2014!!!

1. Father-in-law’s 60th Bday Party – nothing like having a party for the half the town to celebrate your bday! :-)

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2. Fasnet in our town – nothing like crazy costumes, drinking, music, and parades to get you in the spirit!!! We are so sad to be missing it this year!

Toblerone is in the red rooster costume :-)

3. Being in two places at once (First trip to Italy) – The absolute most memorable trip (besides my engagement in Ireland!) thus far. What a fantastic country Italy is… and being on the country line between Austria and Italy, I was able to knock off an item on my bucket list!

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4. Hiking in the Alps – I say it every year that I won’t go but I’m glad I went this last time. It was a view worth the exhaustion!

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5. Wedding in August – Cape Cod, pink wedding dress, lobster bake…whats not to love?!

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6. Going Away party in Germany – Bittersweet, but a great excuse to wear my drindl and party with the family! It was a warm send-off!

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7. Buying our first American home – We were lucky to find it so quickly and seal the deal a week and a half later! BAM!

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8. Thanksgiving with the family – We loved having Toblerone’s mom and my parents with us on our first hosted Thanksgiving in the US. I just hope we can host many many more!

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9. Christmas Market in Chicago – Hands down my FAVORITE city! The Christmas market gave us that little bit of that special German Christmas magic we were missing!

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10. New Years bowling with the parents – Great end to the year! We decided last minute to do a little NYE bowling while my baby sis lay sick in bed with some kind of crud. We were home by 10:30 and relaxed while watching the ball drop. Was really low key and I didn’t have a hangover the next day! WIN!

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2015 has a lot to live up to and I’m hoping it brings a lot of great changes for us! I’ll be taking my Placement test this coming week for school! Can’t believe I’m really going back!!! Of course we still have hopes for a baby just like every year for the past 6 year. Lets see what miracles will happen!

Wishing you all a wonderful start to the new year! Take a moment to reflect on all the wonderful memories that you made and make a plan to make more this year! Travel, meet up with old friends, make goals, make bucket lists, take a cooking class, join a choir! Do something outside of your box. I think you’ll find a great memory just waiting to be made!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

Spice Takes On Chicago

I’ve never been much of a “city” girl but Chicago changed me for good! Luckily this great city is only a hop, skip, and 3.5 hours of driving away.

We stayed in a great hotel right on the river with incredible views and really central to all the fun stuff!

Chi 3Our first night there we went to the Christkindlmarkt to see how close to the Christmas markets back in Germany it was. I must say, it was fairly close…however WAY overpriced! They had all the basic German stuff…wurst, cuckoo clocks, ornaments, etc. Before we moved to Michigan we bought a cuckoo clock in the Black Forest (where they originate from) for more than half of the cost they they charge here. We saw a smaller version of ours for almost $500 MORE than what we paid! So crazy! Toblerone and I decided that we needed to sell something at these markets, we would make thousands just by overcharging unknowing Americans! Is that bad?? :-)

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I got my beloved currywurst and Toblerone had some kind of sausage thing with mustard. Was pretty close to the real deal so we were impressed with that for sure!

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Just look at that happy German!! :-) Chi 8

The next day we walked all over Chicago! We went to the Big Bean or I guess its official name is Cloud Gate. (I literally just had to look that up!) This was a great surprise to me! I LOVED seeing this in person!

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We also walked to the planetarium to get the best views of the city.

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Later on we went shopping a little bit at Macy’s which was just a mad house but is just a part of Xmas! I’m not sure if any of you are familiar with the movie Serendipity, but Toblerone and I LOVE this movie…and wouldn’t you know it…a black glove was on the ground in front of us :-) For those that know the movie, know the significance oof the black glove throughout the movie. Heres the proof:

Chi 4In the evening, I was able to meet up with my roommate from 8+ years ago! It was so good to catch up as if a day never went by. And of course, we had one too many old fashions…yikes…never again. But in this case, the hangover was WELL worth it!

Chi 2Our last day there we stopped at the original UNO’s Pizzeria where we waited over 45 minutes for our personal deep dish pizza. It was SO different from the franchise and was the best pizza I’ve ever had!

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Home we went, savoring the memory from the weekend and looking forward to going back again to experience all that she has to offer! Thank you, Chicago, for turning this “country gal” into a “city-loving girl.”

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Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo