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.

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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

Settling Back In To America

It’s been a minute since I actually found some time to sit down and write. Toblerone and I have been slowly re-acclimating to all things American and the process has been fun so far!

We no longer are in the company apartment (THANK THE LAWD!), purchased a new home, and moved in! Everything happened so fast – literally 2 weeks time. Check out our new digs:

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The neighborhood we are in looks like Wisteria Lane (for you Desperate Housewives fans).  The people wave and are friendly and our direct neighbors are just incredible. It makes the world of difference to just feel like we would have someone to help us if something was wrong. In Germany, the neighbors wouldn’t even return a “Good Morning” until after 3 years! It was crazy.

I’ve already stored our Thanksgiving turkey in someone’s freezer while we waited for our fridge to arrive, and another one brought over her carbon monoxide detector after she learned we were having potential issues with our fireplace. We also got a quick visit and a bottle of wine on Thanksgiving from our other neighbors. I mean, where am I? Oh yeah…America! :-) But seriously, Michiganians (say that ten times fast!) are reallllllllllly nice people. We got so lucky!

I worked frantically to get two of the guest bedrooms finished for our very special guests (THE PARENTS!) I learned I forgot how to paint on walls here in the US so that took me a little bit longer than I expected! But they are mostly done. Need a few more things like end tables for one room and more pictures for both, etc. But we are ready for unexpected and expected guests alike!

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Thanksgiving was great! My parents and Toblerone’s mom came to visit us and we had a small yet very festive Turkey Day! It was so fun to host my first Thanksgiving here in the states in our new home. I wish the entire family could have been with us but some year we will host everyone. This was definitely a scale down from doing it in Germany for 15+ people!

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We went to a Christmas tree farm with my parents in search of the perfect tree. As you know, previously, my experience with Christmas trees wasn’t exactly easy for me to adjust to! At the farm we went to we didn’t bring any cameras, just our memories and it was the greatest memory I’ve had in a long time!

We put the tree together and it was really wonderful to have our parents here to be apart of the first Xmas in Michigan.

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Harley is adjusting and after going through a little bit of Reactivity (Fear Aggression) from being in a completely new place, he is finally starting to be more like himself.  We are all adjusting just fine and although we miss parts of Germany, I think we are happy where we are in this moment. We are where we are supposed to be. Which reminds me of my favorite quote from Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata”

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

The universe is unfolding as it should…profound if you can just believe it and let it.

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

 

 

 

Spice Gets Married (AGAIN!)

Don’t let the title fool you. Two weddings, same man, under 2 years :-) Yup! Thats how life works sometimes when you are in a multi-cultural relationship like ours. I got double the wedding fun! And ever so fitting is that in 10 days we will be celebrating our 2nd year anniversary from our first wedding. A lot of people have asked us which day will we celebrate and the answer is both! Something German for our October 26th anniversary and something American for our August 18th anniversary. We’re lucky enough to have two awesome days to remember…why not celebrate both! :-)

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Hit play on the video below and listen to the song I walked down the aisle too. This song is more of a party song from the 80’s early 90’s but this version lets you actually hear the lyrics. It was beautiful and made a bunch of us cry! Even Toblerone! But how cute is it that a man that has been with me for 6 years, married for 2 would still cry when he sees me walking down the aisle. Beautiful moments all around, people!

During the past two years I have had MANY expats ask me about the wedding planning process from 3,000 miles away. You want my advice? DONT. DO. IT.  Not only did things come out a bit differently than if I had actual time to do things but the amount of stress compressed into the few days before the wedding is just not healthy. Weddings are stressful but imagine seeing your decorations and things you ordered online for the first time one week before the wedding day. If I had a month to go home and organize all wedding things, I would have in a heartbeat. It would have saved us all from combustion!

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We held our wedding in a house we rented for the week in Cape Cod, MA. It was the most beautiful setting for our wedding day. It wasn’t on the beach but I didn’t really want that necessarily. We just wanted it to be in our favorite place on earth.

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We had over 65 guests and every single person there came from out of state or out of country. Think about that for a minute. 65 people (including kidlets) that came for this moment. This special day. It’s this kind of feeling that just can’t be described but that fact that our destination wedding pulled in that amount of love and friendship was just jaw dropping. We were speechless.

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My darling cousin did my hair and makeup and surprise!!!!!!…… My dress is PINK! Wouldn’t want it any other way! We took wedding pictures at the gorgeous Mass Audubon Nature park and wildlife sanctuary. It was a perfect spot. We had the ocean, we had sand, we had forests, we had ponds. So many different cool aspects for a great backdrop. One would even say magical.

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It was 78 degress, sunny (hot in a massive dress), slight seabreeze, and little tiny bugs just LOVED getting up in between the layers of pink tulle I was wearing! My groom looked crazy handsome in his blue suit specially bought in Germany. Our wedding party looked fantastic! It all turned out well considering this was all primarily discussed through email before hand. Everyone looked perfect for the part!

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The morning of our wedding I woke up around 7am and asked Toblerone to walk with me around the yard to take it all in. That was the one and only moment of “calm” that I felt! lol…but I suppose thats normal! Everything was slowly getting set up and we had lemonade and iced tea set up for our guests as they arrived. They got “fan” programs, noise makers, some got rice butterflies to throw in honor of our grandparents who were looking down on us.

Alot of what I did was DIY. I found a bunch of templates online and the real deal of it is…no one cares about the paper products at a wedding. The name cards, escort cards, programs, all of that gets thrown out or drinks spilled over it. I knew that going in so I did ALL of that myself. Even our invitations. I found a lot of great stuff over at weddingchicks.com. But doing a simple search for “templates” is very helpful! Don’t spend a dime on stuff if you don’t have to!

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The ceremony was perfect and personal. Private and intimate. Everything we wanted. AND…done in two languages thanks to our very good friend who did the whole ceremony for us. Just perfect! We had a “stone and time capsule” ceremony.  On each seat we placed gold painted stones that each person was instructed to hold tightly and say a blessing, prayer, wish, and simply put their love and energy in to while Toblerone’s Dad and brother serenaded us with a trumpet duet. These stones were collected and placed into a box with wine and a love letter for us to open on our first anniversary. This was my absolute favorite part of the whole ceremony.

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The reception started off with me sobbing basically while I thanked everyone for coming all this way just for little old us. Our Cape Cod Clambake was fantastic and people raved about the meal. It was a lot of food and for a great price. More importantly kind of fun! I literally was cracking a lobster in my wedding gown. I highly recommend it!

As for the music, I did it all myself. I spent WEEKS….no make that MONTHS working on a playlist long enough to keep the crowd going! I used an app on my phone called Wedding DJ which was great through all the testing but suddenly stopped working by cocktail hour. Thankfully I had the playlists on my computer in iTunes and we used that the rest of the night. I never left the dance floor. For some reason I felt like if the bride was on the dance floor…people would always dance. No one wants to leave the bride alone up there! Right?! I also didn’t have a sip of alcohol. I was sober through the COMPLETE thing! It was awesome! :-) Nothing classy about a drunk bride!

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The party ended around 2am and I ended the night with two of my best friends in my bed talking about the day and life in general while Toblerone hung out with the late-late night crew in the tent. Catching up and just loving the moment. It was the most stressful day of my life and I would NEVER do it again but it was the greatest thing in the world to have everyone we love there (and a few missing!).

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So again for all other expats out there planning a wedding from afar…take the time to sort out the big stuff as best as you can and be prepared for nothing and everything to go wrong on your special day. I received one piece of advice from everyone and that was “Just enjoy the day.” But as a perfectionist, that’s impossible and I wish I could have enjoyed it more. Looking back at it now though, I wouldn’t have changed a thing! Wouldn’t be our story if it wasn’t a little bit crazy and out of hand!

Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxoxo

 

Time To Say Goodbye…

Our journey in Germany ended on several high notes. One of them being the “Going Away” party Toblerone’s parents organized for us. Through all the stress of packing we managed to just take a moment to put all of that behind us and enjoy one last party with the people in our lives there.

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We were able to have the party at the Sportheim in Toblerone’s home town which was a great tribute to him and his many years of playing soccer for this town. In addition to us moving back to the states and starting this new chapter, Toblerone had decided to officially hang up his soccer cleats to end his semi-professional soccer career. It was all just bittersweet!

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We had about 60 family and friends that came to bid us farewell and we had a blast seeing everyone together. Toblerone’s cousin auctioned off items of ours that we no longer could use in the US (electric items) and so that was hilarious to see who bought our christmas lights or our blender, etc. Most importantly, I’m glad a piece of us is in the homes of those we care about.

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It was a perfect send off with wurstsalat and kasesalat…and I may or may not have had too much to drink. :-) 10277801_10154668873630593_2664036994396427145_n

Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxoxo