Aug 22, 2014

FRESH FACE FRIDAY [& Blog Hop!]: Meet Marielle & Frau Dietz

FRIDAY! Welcome, friends! Hope you've all had a lovely week! 
D and I have had an exciting, busy whirlwind of a week. Our stuff arrived!! FINALLY! And now we're swimming in a sea of boxes and clutter. It's slightly insanely overwhelming. I think I have selective memory when it comes to traumatic experiences, because I don't remember ever being this out of mind with OCD panic and annoyance when we've moved in the past. I must press delete on that part of my brain after I make my way through it. For some reason, I can't STAND having all these boxes scattered about. We were so thrilled to get our stuff (after 60 long and stressful days of waiting), but what neither of us realized was how used to NOT having our things we got. Of course we missed our bed and having plates and pots and pans to cook with, but we kind of loved having wide open empty uncluttered space all around us. Sure, the house echoed and we had nothing but the floor to sit on in certain rooms, but it was clean and new and...simple. I hardly had any surfaces to clean, and that in itself was SO FLIPPIN' NICE. Now, it's like a bomb went off in my brand new beautiful home. I wake up and immediately want to go back to sleep, just so I can ignore the mess. I literally can't even, as they say. ;) It's funny how one moment you want something so bad, then the next, when you actually have what you wanted, you realize maybe life was better without it. Not that I would really want to get rid of all my stuff forever. The human mind is weird and confusing. But, we're surviving...and trying not to gag over the nauseating cardboard smell overtaking our home. I know in time the moving dust will settle and I'll look back on these words and laugh. And then I'll do it all over again in 3 to 4 years. Glutton for punishment, we military families are. 

Silver lining? NO ALCOHOL WAS HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS MOVE!! Many happy dances have been danced over that fact this week. And so far, of the boxes we've managed to unpack, nothing else has been broken either! PRAISE THE LORD! If you guys saw how much glassware and travel keepsakes we shipped, you'd be shocked. To have not a single item damaged has been such a relief...and a total miracle. D and I have been sending lots of good vibes to the Polish "gentle giant" who packed all our things (this 22-year-old man-boy was massive, but the sweetest, most gentle packer I've ever met). He may have taken forever to pack, but his thoughtful meticulousness (and massive amounts of packing paper) saved us from losing invaluable pieces & keepsakes we would never be able to replace if they broke. Our stuff may be clutter, but it's unbroken clutter...and for that, we're so very thankful.

When the unpacking gets to be too much, I happy to know I've got a secret weapon of distraction this weekend...the FRESH FACE FRIDAY BLOG HOP! Have you said hello to the two fun bloggers below? If not, make sure you do--another great set of ladies sharing their lives on the interwebs! Don't forget to link up your own creative space to the hop...and BE SURE to come back September 5th to link up to the new prompted hop! Don't know what the heck I'm talking about? Catch up here! Can't wait to read about the greatest trip of your life
Happy weekending!

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BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN' | GOOGLE+

I'm not sure how I hadn't come across Marielle's beautiful blog before having her as a Fresh Face, but I'm so glad to know her now! Marielle is a former English-teaching expat in China & South Korea now navigating life back stateside. Over on her blog, This Flooded Sky, you'll find stories recapping her time abroad, passionate & thought-provoking pieces about feminism, and reflective posts about expat life and world of blogging. I've so enjoyed getting to know more about Marielle's story...visit her today, won't you?

Marielle's Favorite Posts:
Local Exploration
How I Became a Feminist

My Favorite Posts:
A Little More Reverse Culture Shock
Fictional Places I Want to Visit
Living Life in Hangzhou



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I'm so excited to share Frau Dietz and her AWESOME Eating Wiesbaden blog with you! Not only is she living in Wiesbaden, but she's sharing all the best restaurants, bars, cafes, markets, festivals, and foods that my most favorite German city has to offer. While living in Wiesbaden, I would frequent this blog for date night ideas. Today, I still visit when I'm feeling nostalgic for my old host city. Gosh, I miss that place. Frau Dietz gives excellent reviews of dozens of great (and not so great) dining options in Wiesbaden, so don't leave the house without taking a look! And make sure to check out her recipe for Spundekas dip--one of our German appetizer favorites!

Frau Dietz's Favorite Posts:
3 German Foods That Taste Better Than They Look
How to Make White Asparagus with Hollandaise
Wiesbaden's 5 Most Indulgent Hot Chocolates

My Favorite Posts:
5 Best Restaurants for Lunch in Wiesbaden
Frankfurt Green Sauce Recipe
Seasonal Eating Guides

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Welcome to the
FRESH FACE FRIDAY BLOG HOP!
No prompt, just fun!

Hosted by: Casey @ We Took the Road Less Traveled

Rules for hopping:
1| Follow your host & co-hosts (first 3 links), pretty please! 
2| Link up your blog's homepage or Bloglovin' page.
3| Hop around, meet new bloggers, and leave them love!
4| Have fun? Spread the word and share this blog hop with your friends!
5| Want to be a co-host? Click here for more info! 

Grab a button and share the blog hop love!
We Took the Road Less Traveled
Tweet about this blog hop!

Aug 20, 2014

5 Surprising Destinations in Europe



Ever come across a destination while on vacation that absolutely surprised you? You know, that city or town you really had no interest in seeing, but totally blew you away in the best way possible? During our time living abroad, D and I encountered quite a few of these "hidden gems" while traveling all over Europe. Some we discovered as ports of call on our European cruises, others we just happened upon while traveling with friends. But what they all had in common was the ability to create major "WOW" moments unique to each destination. That's what's thrilling about traveling places outside of your typical interests. You never know what beautiful destination you might fall in love with! Here are a few of the cities D and I were most pleasantly surprised about...


Split was a stop on our most recent Adriatic cruise sailing. Dubrovnik was the highlight port of the cruise (for me at least), so our day in Split just seemed like a bonus. We weren't expecting it to present anything spectacular, but after disembarking the cruise ship and riding the tender boat to port, we immediately changed our minds! Split is nestled into the side of a small mountain range and is pushed right up against the Adriatic Sea, making for some gorgeous landscape contrasts. The views just from sailing into port were thrilling. Palm trees, white-washed stone buildings, crystal blue water...my photos hardly do it justice. Once we arrived at the port, the town opened up into a historic wonder with Diocletian's palace being the star attraction. I was nothing short of awe-struck for the rest of the day.

| EAT |
Restaurant Tifani--We stopped in here for a bottle of wine and a snack. Be sure to try the Croatian wines and nosh on local olives and cheese. The views at this place can't be beat! 
5 Poljana Kraljice JeleneSplit 21000 Croatia

FIGA Food Bar--Great cocktails and quick meals inside of an eclectic tight alleyway cafe. Not a lot of seating, but the fresh dishes make up for it.
Buvinina 1Split 21000Croatia

| SEE |
--Wander through Diocletian's Palace
--Shop vendor stalls around the palace
--Cathedral and bell tower of St. Dominus
--Cardo Maximus & the Peristyle
--Riva Harbor


Tallinn was hands down the best part of our Baltic cruise during the summer of 2013. I haven't written about it yet, but when I think of "diamond in the rough" type towns across Europe, Tallinn is the first destination that pops into my mind. We knew nothing about Estonia before traveling there. NOTHING. So, needless to say, we really had no expectations. We were totally enamored with the way this town has preserved every historic tradition Tallinn ever had. From restaurant waitresses wearing traditional garb and serving traditional fare (think wild boar, elk, & bear, yum!) to the medieval town fair and surrounding fortress wall, this town really wowed us with its historic pride. In addition, the city is just too darn cute. So much fun and absolutely unexpected.

| EAT| 
Olde Hansa--Excellent place to try traditional medieval Estonian delights right in the heart of Tallinn Old Town. Might I suggest the wild bear, elk, & boar sausages or the bear stew? Don't forget to wash it all down with a mug of honey beer! Such a fun place to eat.
Vana Turg 1Tallinn 10140Estonia

Hell Hunt--Great Scandinavian pub and restaurant to try local Estonian beers. 
Pikk 39Tallinn 10140Estonia

| SEE | 
--Tallinn Old Town
--Tallinn Town Hall Square
--Toompea Hill
--Oleviste Church & Tower
--Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
St. Catherine's Passage


As a bustling University town, Utrecht definitely had an eclectic life of its own. Between the students riding their bikes to class and ducking in and out of bars at the end of the day, this city really made me feel like I was back reliving my college days, only with much more stunning scenery. As if the gorgeous canal-lined streets weren't swoon-worthy enough, Utrecht also boasts a healthy craft & Belgian brew scene, great shopping, and lots of quaint cafes to keep you fueled an happy while exploring. Had we not visited here on a birthday trip with friends, we would have never had the pleasure of experiencing this jewel of the Netherlands.

| EAT & DRINK | 
Olivier--Belgian beer bar and restaurant housed inside of an old "hidden" church; original vaults, organ, and alter still intact. Menu includes 70 different beers and suggested dishes for pairing. Try the cheese croquettes, homemade bread with garlic aioli, and the local Utrecht brews. 
Achter Clarenburg 63511 JJ Utrecht, Netherlands

Rooie Dop Brewdungeon--Local craft brewery bar featuring unique brews including a coffee porter, an oatmeal stout, and a fruit white IPA.
Oudegracht a/d werf 5, 3511 Utrecht, Netherlands 

| SEE | 
--Visit the Dom tower
--Walk the canals (picture-perfect in every way!) 
--Venture just outside of town to Castle De Haar



I was shocked by the beauty of Kotor and surrounding Kotor Bay in Montenegro. Montenegro is a country most people don't even know exists, but man, once you've floated through its fjords, drenched in sunlight with mountains towering overhead, you'll never ignore this tiny country again! As if the beautiful sea juxtaposed against the lush mountain landscape wasn't already perfect enough, wandering through Kotor's walled city is icing on the cake. This up-and-coming city is truly a destination to watch! I'm excited to see how tourism blossoms here over the coming years.

| EAT |
Galion--Beautiful views and excellent seafood. Terrace of the restaurant floats over the sea!
Suranj bbKotor 85330Montenegro

Restaurant Cesarica-- Mediterranean cuisine. Again, go for the seafood!
Stari grad 375Kotor 85330Montenegro

| SEE |
--Old Town Kotor
--Walk the city walls
--The Church of Our Lady of the Rock
--Kotor Castle of San Giovanni (St. John)
--Venture up to Mount Lovcen to experience the 25 switchback turns drive and breathtaking scenic views of the city and bay.


Bamberg is one of those unsuspecting German towns that enchants you from the second you begin to walk through it. Colorful half-timbered houses, rushing water, quiet canals, and all the fabulous German beer you could possibly want stuffed into one charming city. Very easily navigated and day-trip worthy! D and I loved our day here, and have been spreading the world about beautiful Bamberg ever since.

| EAT |
Schlenkerla--Home of Bamberg's claim to fame, Rauchbier (smoked beer)!
Dominikanerstrasse 6, 96049 Bamberg, Germany

Klosterbrau Bamberg--Traditional German fare and excellent brown beer.
Obere Muhlbrucke 1-396049 Bamberg, Germany

| SEE |
--Bamberg Alstadt (Old Town)
--Altus Rathaus (Old Town Hall)
--Bamberger Dom (cathedral)
--New Residenz (tour not in English)
--Little Venice (Bamberg's famous canal area)
--Bamberg Brewery Trail

What are some destinations that have surprised you in your travels?

Aug 15, 2014

Refreshing Fresh Face Friday...


This might be my new favorite photo of D. No happier man than a man on vacation! I can't wait to get my iMac back so I can start sharing our Adriatic cruise photos with you. That vaycay feels like forever ago! Anywho...we made it to Friday, y'all. Whew! I hope you all had a nice, productive, fun-filled week, wherever in the world you are! We have another set of guests visiting with us this weekend...D's parents! D hasn't seen them in over a year, so needless to say he's on Cloud 9 hanging out with his dad and being spoiled by his momma. I've enjoyed watching them reconnect and getting to spend some quality family time with them myself! 

I'm sure you've noticed, but there's no Fresh Face link up this week. In an effort to keep my load light and my sanity intact as we finish out the last steps of this transatlantic transition (i.e.-OUR STUFF IS BEING DELIVERED ON MONDAY!!!!! CUE THE HALLELUJAH CHORUS!!!)...I decided to reintegrate FFF back into my blogging routine a bit slower than normal (every 2 weeks instead of hosting once a week). Half to see how it would do again, and half to not overwhelm myself with too much at one time. So far, the response has been pretty good and I'm only hoping it will continue to grow as blog land awakens from its summer stupor. Tell me you guys have noticed how dead-as-door-nails this place has been recently? Like tap-tap-tap, is this thing on? Anywho, I feel like an upswing for blog world should be happening any day now, so I'll be revving up FFF with a new feature. Starting September 5th, I'll be trying out some writing prompts along with the blog hop! Now, don't freak out...it'll be fun!

How it will work:
1| I'll give a writing prompt a week before FFF goes live every other Friday. 
(Example-I'll be giving you a prompt today that will be the writing topic for the blog hop on September 5th. On Sept 5th, I'll give you your topic for the hop on September 19th.)

2| You write a blog post on the topic. You've basically got 2 weeks to brainstorm & write away. Easy peasy.

3| Link up that specific blog post to the FFF Blog Hop.

4| Hop around, read posts, mix & mingle, and meet new-to-you bloggers!

Boom. Fresh Face Friday freshened up a bit. :) September will be a trial run for this whole writing prompt thing. Why am I even changing the format? Because sometimes it's hard to find things to write about. I get "bloggers block" more than I care to admit most days. At least this way, we all have one day a week where we'll know exactly what to write about! If it sucks and bloggers start showing up at my door for a Casey-lynching, then well, we'll go back to the no-prompt approach. I'm not one to try and make a round peg fit into a square hole. Hopefully, we'll all have some good stories to share, sharpen up our writing skills, and have some flippin' fun!

So, all that being said...wanna know your first writing topic for September 5th?!

Tell me about the greatest trip of your life.
It could be a family vacation, a mission trip, a big move abroad, a honeymoon...tell me about any trip you've taken (foreign or domestic) that left a long lasting impression on you. A trip of a lifetime, a vacation you can't stop bragging about, a trip you still talk about to this day...I WANNA KNOW! Make sure to add in fab pictures, because if this was the greatest trip of your life, we're gonna wanna see it!

Everyone got it? Good! If you've got topics you'd love to write about for future FFF, leave me your suggestions in the comments section...and I'll meet you back here September 5th for even more Fresh Face Friday fun! Want to be one of my Fresh Faces for September, you still have time to grab your spot at $5 OFF with code LETSPARTY! Happy weekending, friends!
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