Off To Italy We Go (Part Three)

The last and final installment of our vacation in Italy is FINALLY hot off the presses. Just a quick little update…I was taking a few classes during the summer and it took over my life! Hence why I haven’t said much since June! My apologies! I’m back at it though and have lined up quite a few fun posts!

Ok…on with it!

Our trip ended with a beautiful Easter Sunday Hike followed by a wonderful dinner of course. Luckily, the Easter bunny found me in Italy. I did send him a note to let him know so I’m glad he got that in time.

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But FIRST…the morning church bells that remind me of all things Europe. When we first moved to Germany, I used to be so annoyed by the early morning bell show that took place right outside my window (were were a road away from the church). But now, somehow, it brings me back really great memories of always knowing what time it was!

 

This was the front of our hotel. For some reason I just feel like decorations in Europe are really different. Granted, a majority of the products are with wood and felt but I just thought these big things outside the hotel were so cool! What weird shapes!

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Off we went on our hike (two VERY hungover people in tow…and no it wasn’t me!). I literally pushed Toblerone up the hill. Talk about a workout! But it was fun. We were walking towards a little restaurant that was a few miles up the mountain. And when I say up..I mean up.

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The views were beautiful and the little bits of snow on the ground reminded us quickly how high up we actually were.

We made it to the restaurant and I met a few friends, furry ones of course! Apparently goats love peanuts. Did you know that?

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On our way back down the mountain towards our hotel after a few drinks we stopped for some more drinking of course and snacks. My father-in-law is always providing the drinks for us. Only the best wine there is! (Note: The two most hungover people with no wine in their hands….:-) Brothers…)

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Back at the hotel we got ready for dinner. I put on my Easter dress and headed down to the dining room.

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Dinner was an array of amazing things. They had plate upon plate of meats, cheese, fruits, salad bar, etc. We also got a lamb or fish dinner and dessert but the main idea was a buffet! I do love me a good buffet!

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The weekend ended with a few drinks at the bar. My favorite? Amaretto liqueur with apple cider. The BEST. Try it sometime, you’ll thank me! Looking forward to going back to this hotel one day. We had such a great time!

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Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxo

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The Insel Mainau: The Flowering Island

Along the beautiful Lake Constance you will find a beautiful little island. Complete with a castle (still owned) and incredibly beautiful gardens that take you to another place. It actually didn’t even feel like Germany. The water around the island is a really crystal blue and with the palm trees and vibrant colored flowers it almost makes you feel like you’re in another world!

Luckily it was a little adventure we got to take with Toblerone’s parents also. The castle is occupied at the moment so it’s not something that is opened to the public for tours with the exception of a small area they set up for a gift shop and a restaurant attached to the orchid greenhouse.

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It was a bit too early in spring for all the flowers but regardless, it was just a beautiful day. It started off with a bit of rain but as we arrived on the island we put our umbrellas down and walked the grounds guided by sunshine.

My absolute FAVORITE part of the entire island is the butterfly house. There are thousands of butterflies in this man-made jungle house. It was just incredible to see so many different types of butterflies happily flying around and a few different vegetarian birds to add to the atmosphere.

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Walking around the grounds we saw these massively large trees called Mammouth trees (also found in the states) which were planted in the late 1800’s and have grown to the giant masses they are today! Channeling my inner hippie I gave those big guys a squeeze.

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We walked around the castle, went inside the church which was decorated in beautiful floral arrangements,  and made our way around to a little farm..where of course I had to pet all the animals. These furry guys are used to all the people I think so they just made their way right over to me and waited for bite to eat!

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We ended the day with a little train watching which I thought was just adorable with all the German homes stacked around. Very cute! There are also great playgrounds  which would make for a fantastic place to bring the kids to run out a bit of energy.

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It was a really beautiful place and thankfully the weather held out for us! It was a perfect start to our vacation. More to come!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

 

 

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

 

Third Annual Hiking Trip In the Alps

My annual meeting with the Alps happened again. This time we traveled a couple hours away to the Lünersee in Austria. This was actually a tough climb and a lot of steep parts but hey…when in Rome!!

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With our group of 25 people we climbed up the first portion to a lodge (6,495 feet above sea level) for lunch and a few drinks. Note to self…don’t drink beer before you hike another 3 hours! Muscle will not function properly! Lucky for us there was a band there playing all the special German songs in their drindls and lederhosen which our group naturally helped out here and there! 🙂

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After lunch we headed out to our overnight lodge which was a good 3 hour hike. Straight up. It was pretty rough and quite a few people struggled but the thought that carries you through is the beer you get to have once you get there!

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7,824 feet above sea level we arrive at our lodge for the night. Sleeping is literally bunk beds but not the kind you’re thinking of. We are sleeping 5 across…one right after the other. In my room alone we fit about 18 or so. Lucky me…this meant no sleep with all the younger, crazy guys!

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In the evening we were served a 3 course meal (not bad for so far up the mountain. Remember…everything needs to be brought up there!). First course was a flädlesuppe, also known as pancake soup. Then on to Deer meat goulash. I opted for noodles of some sort. And dessert was icecream with pineapples. Not a bad set up! After dinner the music started going, people were singing loud, playing cards, and drinking away. A standard night up in a lodge over 7,000 feet high in the middle of the Alps. Right?

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The next morning…after ZERO sleep, we headed even farther up the mountains behind us and at this point, I started panicking I’m not sure what it is in my old age but as I get older the more afraid of heights I am. I’m not necessarily afraid of heights, let me rephrase. More like my body just starts to turn to jello and I feel wobbly. Like I will lose my balance at any moment and plummet to my death. But nonetheless, I survived…obviously!

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Hiking down is of course a lot less horrible and less work but when you haven’t had a lot of sleep the only thing you think is, GET ME OFF THIS DAMN MOUNTAIN! Or at least…those were my sentiments.

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A killer view like this is worth it though. How often do you see a massive lake high up in the middle of the Alps. It’s one of those gifts that the world gives us. And for a very brief moment nothing else seems to matter. The world has a funny way of putting things into perspective for us.

Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxo