Aug 26, 2014

The Reason I Dressed: The Land of Vikings [GIVEAWAY!]

Hello, We Took the Road Less Traveled readers! I’m Angie from Reasons to Dress, my blog is about life and style, things that go hand in hand in Italy where I currently live with my husband and 2 year old son. Last week I was in a Northern German town visiting a Viking settlement recreation, I hope you enjoy where I went and what I wore!

The Reason I Dressed - The Land of Vikings

In search of a new experience we headed to the Northern tip of Germany to a small town called Hedeby just 20 minutes south of the Denmark border in “Viking Territory”! 

Once upon a time, around a thousand years ago, Vikings settled in this inlet and stayed here for over 300 years. They worked, lived, and set sail from here, until the site was abandoned for the more strategic position across the lake. The area they left behind remained untouched until archaeologists discovered it and were able to piece together the story of the settlement, recreating a few of their homes, tools, and ways of life.


We spent an incredible day at the Viking Museum in Hedeby, immersed in vibrant green meadows and perched on the edge of the inlet that connects to the North and Baltic seas.

The museum itself is very modern and showcased the artifacts in an interactive way. FYI, I was not able to actually read or enjoy any of the indoor exhibits because I was WAY too preoccupied ensuring that my toddler didn’t:
a) Climb/break the exhibits, b)  Stomp his feet, play hide and go seek, climb the exhibits (wait did I already say that?), c) Annoy the £$%& out of other museum dwellers with his adorable (to me) and yet surprisingly ear-piercing squeals (aka tantrum screams!)

What I really LOVED about this place was that you could go outside of the museum, walk for 15 minutes along the nature trail to an entire Viking Settlement recreated on the water’s edge.

Incredible attention to detail made it feel as though we really did enter a real Viking settlement complete with characters in full costume! There were even sheep grazing in the hills beside us along the trail!


I loved this part of the museum and thought more than once about the fact that the same cold wind that was blowing all around would have blown a Viking’s face a thousand years ago.

What I Wore

In my blog, I try to share not just how I dress but where I went. I always wonder where all those fashion bloggers are going all dressed up! Not only that, but I have a really hard time dressing appropriately for the weather, so hopefully this will help you if you ever plan on visiting North Europe in mid-August! Let me save you some packing headaches...leave your bathing suit at home (unless of course you are incredibly tough-like Viking tough!)

 What to Wear?  What to Wear………

 I didn't bring this trench with me, I bought it on sale for 20 euro (about $27) in Copenhagen a few days before this trip to Germany. It has been a much needed addition to my wardrobe.

 It can be very hot and sunny one moment and then frigidly windy and cold the next, only to be followed by rain! You’ll want to pack and wear many a layer from cotton sweaters to polo shirts and t-shirts. When it gets cold, layer away, and if you start to sweat just peel a layer off!   Plus, don’t you find that adding in layers instantly makes any outfit so much more interesting?

 I managed to pack rain boots into a carry-on luggage! These are “Chelsea” rain boots, meaning they are rubber, but have that sleek London Chelsea-design, making them an easy addition to bring along for a trip to North Germany in the summer. Believe me you’ll be glad you have them since it rains every second day!

 Remember my trusty rainhat from my Spring trip to Rome? Well, I keep it in my pocket at all times! When it starts to pour and I need to push the stroller, I just pull it out and voilà! When it really starts to come down I also have a fashionable Topshop rain poncho that I use, but luckily we were greeted with pretty decent weather on our trip to the Viking settlement (by decent I mean it only rained twice in a 10 hour period!) It was windy, however, so I’m glad I had my cotton beanie (touque for those of us who are Canadian) to protect my ears. The hats are available now at H&M as part of their new collection and are under $10, but any thin cotton hat will do!

 You’ll want to pack sunglasses, when the sun shines it REALLY shines. Mine were bought on sale for $17 and did the trick. Here’s some advice, skip the expensive sunglasses when on vacation, if you loose them or forget them they will be gone forever! I’ve lost $400 sunglasses in Paris (pre-baby days obviously) and to this day it still bothers me. Enjoy your vacation without the worry of loosing things that you won’t want to replace.

 I live in Italy! I dare not go ANYWHERE without a scarf. If you want to read about the Italian obsession with scarves and drafts I wrote a bit about it last winter here!

 Last, but not least I would recommend a braided belt. Since there are no holes, there is no specific “sizing” so you can wear it up high on your waist, or with pants and jeans and even over a coat.  I usually pack at least 3 belts when I go on vacation since my husband is a belt artisan, but on this trip, being limited to one small carry-on for two weeks I only packed this belt and it GOES WITH EVERYTHING!  For a chance to win this belt, valued at around $600, please enter the giveaway below!

And that’s what I wore and how my day went at the Viking Settlement. If you’re wondering if I found any stylish moms to photograph in Hedeby, I found only one! I call her “Viking Mom” and she was pretty cool!  Little does she realize that plaid will be all the rage this fall! Come visit the blog next week and I’ll be sharing some Copenhagen DAD Street Style, with a pretty hunky dad that looks surprisingly like Jude Law (good thing my husband has a lot of self-confidence!). Have a great day and don’t forget to stop by, say hi, and enter the giveaway!


Thanks for sharing your stylish outfit and great Viking adventure, Angie!! Friends, make sure to enter to win one of Angie's FAB Italian belts in the Rafflecopter below.
This supreme calf leather belt has been colored by hand and features a solid brass, artisan made buckle created in Florence, Italy. It has been braided by hand, and you will notice that each leather strip is actually twice as wide as what you can see, because the same leather is folded upon itself, so you have the same supple leather on top and bottom.  This method has created a luxuriously supple accessory that hugs your curves and confirms to your body’s shape.  Incredibly versatile you can wear this flexible belt through pant belt loops or even over a dress by tucking the belt tip down. Created entirely in Italy by the Italian artisan belt company T.E.S. Tradizioni ed Elementi di Stile, meaning Traditions and Elements of Style, Italy’s foremost exotic leather belt artisans, who have created belt lines for the World’s most exclusive luxury brands and currently have their own line of belts on sale at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City. This belt will be custom sized to the winner’s WAIST SIZE,  please indicate your exact waist measurement (just above your hip bones) in centimeter’s as part of the giveaway’s entry process. This belt would retail for approximately $600 in North America. Good Luck!

Aug 25, 2014

Tips for Moving with the Military: Things I Wish I'd Known My First PCS

In the military, PCS is just a fancy acronym for "Hey, you're moving!" The acronym stands for Permanent Change of Station, but as all military families know, the move is never permanent. Some families will move every 2-3 years, while others may live at one duty station for 4-7 years. Sometimes more depending on the job. For D and I, it's somewhere around the every 3-4 year time frame...and once he gets higher in rank, it'll likely be every 2 years. One thing that's for sure is military families get really good at this whole moving thing. The entire process can be super stressful (and never gets any more fun to do year after year), but after the first 2 moves, you begin to get it all down to a science. Housing office meetings, TMO scheduling, out-processing, packing, unpacking, TLF living...I feel like I could write a book about it all myself! 

{Taken at D's deployment homecoming in 2010}
Since marrying into the Air Force in the summer of 2008, D and I have moved to three different duty stations. Our very first military move was from our hometown in North Carolina to Hampton, Virginia (Langley AFB). I learned a lot that first PCS, and even more when we moved from Virginia to Germany in 2011 (moving abroad deserves its own PCS post!). Just when I thought I'd gotten the hang of this moving thing, then we up and bought a house and moved to our next duty station in Florida after 3 years abroad. Needless to say, owning a new home and navigating a transatlantic move granted us a whole new learning curve for military moves. Just goes to show, every move can be different! Now that we've covered all kinds of moving situations, there are a few things that remain constant throughout the military moving process...

Here are some basic things I wish I had known my first PCS with the military:
  • Don't pre-pack anything in boxes. The movers will just unpack it and re-pack it to their liking. The reasoning behind this is because the movers are liable for any items they break during your move. If you pack it and it breaks, that's on you. It's their way of protecting you (and themselves) should anything happen along the way. If you have anything in large Tupperware bins (i.e.-holiday decorations, keepsakes, old clothes, random storage items, etc.), they likely won't re-pack those. It is a good idea, however, to organize your belongings and throw out anything you know you'll never use at your new duty station. Downsizing & simplifying are two of the perks of moving every few years!
  • It's always a good idea to have a few snacks and drinks (like water, tea, gatorade) on hand for your movers. It can be a long day (or multiple days depending on your moving poundage) packing up and labeling all of your precious belongings, so snacks help to keep their energy up and crankiness low. If you're feeling extra sweet (hint: just do this anyway!), buy the movers lunch. Nothing fancy or expensive, just something to show them you appreciate them taking good care of your stuff. And after their full and happy, I guarantee they'll be extra careful with your grandmother's antique vase. 
  • Anything you don't want the movers to touch, LABEL IT! You can even go as far as placing all those things in a closed-off room and telling them whatever's in that room...stays. Believe me, if you don't tell them or show them what NOT to pack, they'll pack it all. I've heard horror stories about folks getting their household goods weeks or months later and realizing the movers packed their garbage as well. I'm sure that smelled lovely! If you're a super organized Type A-mover, you may also want to color code your boxes with tape or stickers to designate what boxes go in what room when you get to your new home. I've yet to try this, but I hear lots of good things from fellow milspouses who've tested this technique.
  • Keep a watchful eye, but don't hover. It's a tough thing, watching strangers touch your personal belongings, but hovering over them and dictating what you'd like to have in what particular box is overkill. There's a fine line for helpful monitoring and nagging over-protectiveness. Nit-picking and having unrealistic packing ideals won't make them go faster and it sure won't make for a happy packing environment. I know, I's YOUR stuff. You want to make sure it's packed away safe and sound (and that no one's stolen anything), but have a little faith that your movers know what they're doing. I'm sure packing your house isn't their first go-round. If you want them to take particular care of precious items or see something you rather them pack differently, then politely ask them. Or better yet, find a way to get those items to your new location yourself. We kept all of our fine china in my parent's basement for our move overseas. Just didn't want to chance it. If you do notice your packers completely disrespecting your belongings, call the moving inspector and let them know immediately so they can remedy the situation. DON'T take matters into your own hands!

  • Put your bedding, sheets, curtains, pillows, towels...anything fabric (aside from clothing) folded nicely in those giant Ziploc moving bags. They are absolutely wonderful for keeping moisture out and dirty hand prints off your linens. That way, when you finally get them back, you can just pull them out and not worry that they're moldy or soiled.
  • You'll have to take down everything of your walls (the movers won't do that). For all the screws, bolts, photo hangers, curtain tiebacks, mounting fixtures, etc. (the little things that help hang something to your wall), place them in labeled baggies and store them all in one box labeled "DECORATIVE HARDWARE". Then you'll easily find them all in one place ready for hanging. Such a timesaver!
  • Have the movers and packers lay down moving cloths or cardboard boxes for them to roll their dollies over and pack (or unpack) heavy items on in your home. This way, you'll save your precious floors some serious scratches. If you do find any damage to your home, address it with the movers and with the moving inspector before the movers leave your home.
  • Make sure to pull out any important papers, passports, bills, password sheets, medical info...anything you might need to keep your life going while your stuff is moving, don't let the movers pack those! It's a good idea to have a "PCS Binder" full of all the important paperwork you might need in one organized place, that way you won't be wracking your brain looking for Sally's shot record when you register her for school in your new town. Here's a great list of things your PCS Binder should include.
  • Make sure to talk with your moving inspector pre-move to find out what items the movers will or will not pack. Most moving companies will move any non-perishable food items (i.e.-boxed dry food, flour, rice, pastas, canned goods, etc.), but anything half-opened they'll leave for you to discard. I've had moving companies tell me they won't move candles, batteries, alcohol, opened liquids/toiletries, lighters, cooking oils, aerosol cans/sprays or anything that could be flammable. In our recent transatlantic move, alcohol was permitted (as long as the state we were moving to allowed for it) and they packed my candles & batteries. Proof every company is ask before chucking them out! Hiding half-opened toiletries wrapped up in Tupperware bins is also a trick of the military moving world, but you didn't hear that from me! ;)
  • If you're moving abroad (OCONUS locations), the second you can start making plans (scheduling movers, out-processing, being medically cleared, no-fee passports, etc.), DO IT! Don't wait until the last minute to do any important things that will help you get abroad. You know the military works on their own schedules, so being ahead of the game on your end can save you a headache later. Also, it's wise to stay ON TOP of whomever you need to to get stuff done. Don't be afraid to pester the housing office, TMO, your sponsor, EVERYONE...if you need something done ASAP. Sometimes things fall through the cracks during peak PCS season. Don't let that something be you!

Any move is stressful, but moving with the military can be a different beast of its own. You might think you're out of control, but take heart, you're not! You have many military entities in your corner during the moving process, so don't let the stress get the best of you. PCS season can be exciting, too! Moving to a new city, starting over, experiencing new places and making new friends...think of the possibilities! Take a deep breath, make lists, and go forth with minimal worries. It will all get done! And if you've got any PCS questions (abroad or otherwise), don't hesitate to email me! Always happy to help a fellow MilFamilies!

Any more tips you'd add to this list? Share the wealth!

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!



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


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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