Aug 1, 2014

The Return of Fresh Face Friday!

That's right, ladies and gents! Fresh Face Friday has returned! Or will soon as I get some new Fresh Faces on board! Want that to be you?!? I do!! For the month of August, I'm offering 4 spots--with the official return of Fresh Face Friday (including the blog hop, yay!) scheduled to go live on August 8th. 

Right now, you can grab one of these fun advertising spots at $5 OFF with code LETSPARTY! The FFF concept is still the same (showing off fab bloggers on Fridays, great exposure, lots of fun--eek!), but the blog hop might also include fun writing prompts to give it a refreshing twist. I'm thinking topics ranging from all things travel to just plain ol' everyday life kind of stuff (recipes, DIYs, funny stories, home tours, favorite things, be an expert, a day in the life...the options are endless, really). Sound like a plan? I sure hope so! I'm stoked, you're stoked (you are, I can feel it!) let's get this Fresh Face ball rolling again!

Meet you back here on August 8th for the Fresh Face Friday relaunch? 
Don't miss it!

Jul 31, 2014

Traveling with Kids: 3 Tips from Jessica Lynn Writes

Hi friends of Casey! I’m Jessica from Jessica Lynn Writes thrilled to be here today. I’ve known Casey for a couple of years, and we even met in real life for one awesome weekend blate when she came out to visit me in Italy for a weekend. Sadly, we’ve both moved on from our European adventures, but now we’re just a state away from each other. She’s living it up along the Florida coast and I’m just north of her in Georgia!

I wanted to chat today about traveling with kids, because there seems to be a misconception that once you have kids, traveling will cease to exist. When my daughter, Julia, was born, we were ready to hit the ground running—or at least ready to hop on the first train out of town—and even got her passport process started just four days after she was born (talk about a funny looking picture—the guy took it while she was mid cry). We waited until she got her first round of shots (and for me to recover from delivery) and then we went on her first road trip.

For our first trip we went all out, driving to Lake Como, Italy (sadly no George Clooney sightings); Lucerne, Switzerland; and through the Alsace region of France. It was delightful! Of course it took a little longer than usual since we had to stop every few hours for feedings and diaper changes, but other than that, traveling with a newborn was a piece of cake. Europeans tend to love children and were always extremely accommodating wherever we went with her.

Sadly, we moved away from Italy when Julia was four months old, but that didn’t stop our traveling. We’ve already been on a cross-country road trip, lived in a hotel for three months, went on a Caribbean cruise, been on countless plane rides (and a mama/daughter soloride at that), and we’ve spent weekends in Savannah, Charleston, Atlanta, and Gatlinburg. In the works for the rest of the year are a few more weekends away, another solo flight, and another cross-country road trip—we like to keep busy. 

At the beach in the Bahamas (and the drink this mama had later that day).

Ready for the cruise!
Still going about our day!
While we may not have any more wild weekends in Vegas or be able ride any rides at Disney yet, having a little one in tow hasn’t prevented us from going places and seeing the world. I will admit that traveling with her as an infant was easier than as a toddler (strapping her into a baby carrier was a lifesaver), but now that she walks around it's still totally doable. 

In my 16 months of traveling with my little one, I’ve conjured up three pieces of advice:

1. Go with the flow. Your plans will most likely change (there may be a diaper blowout or a toddler who won’t sit still during a meal out), so you can either stand firm with your agenda or roll with the punches. Starting your trip with the mindset that things may change at a moments notice will help you embrace your new adventure.

2. Flexibility. Be willing to change and adapt to your new situation, which can be easier said than done when you’re in a new place. My daughter, for example, has a really hard time sleeping in the same room with us. We forgot about this priceless piece of information when we embarked on our cruise (you know…in a room the size of a matchbox). Luckily, we were flexible with our options and figured out a solution: her pack ‘n play went into the bathroom for the night. Now, whenever we travel, we either make sure there’s a divider in the room or pray the bathroom is large enough for her bed!

3. Patience, patience, patience. Kids will be kids. They will scream and yell and poop at all the wrong times. They won’t sleep when you need them to on the plane, and breastfeeding could sometimes feel like she’s attempting gymnastics when you’re in a public place. I’m still working on keeping my cool when things get crazy, but when having patience is at the top of my mind, things go a lot better.

Long story short: kids are just little humans. They like seeing the world and experiencing new things just as much as we do. Even though it may take a little extra effort (and more diapers and pit stops), I love that I’m seeing the world with my daughter. We love it so much that we’re adding another little one to our bunch (coming in February)!

We’re still pretty new at this, but we’re taking it one trip at a time. Do you travel with your kids? I’d love to hear your favorite tips when it comes to traveling with little ones!

Follow along with Jess and her travels here:

Jul 30, 2014

So, You're Moving to Wiesbaden? | WHERE TO EAT: Part 2

Cafe/Light Lunch/Coffee Date
La Maison du Pain | Marktstraße 2, 65183 Wiesbaden, Germany | +49 611 16661310
Ahhh, cafe lattes the size of your head. No, really. I miss this place so! Great for a relaxing Sunday brunch or a sweet treat and cup of joe, La Maison du Pain always left me full and feeling refreshed. My Maison favorites? The St. Tropez tartine, Croque Monsieur, and their yogurt parfait with honey & fruit. And bonus! They have English menus! Don't forget to take home one of their unbelievable pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants) or raspberry macarons. You can thank me later. :)

Cafe MaldanerMarktstraße 34, 65183 Wiesbaden, Germany | +49 611 305214
Don't let the creepy old mannequins out front scare you from eating here. What their window decor lacks in sanity, they totally make up for with their delicious desserts! Cafe Maldaner keeps old-time coffee house tradition alive and well in downtown Wiesbaden. Antique furniture & decadent pastries make this a sweet place to stop in for a light nosh, and their Sunday champagne brunch is not to be missed! Located just off the Marktplatz.

Domane Mechtildshausen | Mechtildshausen, 65205 Wiesbaden, Germany | +49 611 73740
Located on a sustainable farm near the Clay Kaserne Army Airfield, Cafe Bohne at the Domane is the perfect spot for a light lunch and cup of tea. Not only can you enjoy fresh fare from the farm, but you can shop at their on-site baker, butcher, bio market, and cheese shop as well as stop to pet the animals! This place is a total dream in the springtime (flowers everywhere!), but could get busy and sometimes the service is slow (it is a farm, after all). Make sure to try their delicious soups and baked brie. A true hidden gem in Wiesbaden!

Doner Kebaps

Cardak Pizza & Doner (Mainz-Kastel) | Boelcke Strasse 5555252 Mainz-Kastel, Germany
After trying a handful of doner shops, this is the only one D and I really ever ate at in the Wiesbaden area. My theory, if it ain't broke...don't fix it! We LOVE Cardak! Great doners, excellent crispy french fries (D dreams about them still!), and quick, friendly service. D was a big fan of the doner duram (doner wrap) and I was a creature of habit and always ordered the traditional doner kebap sandwich. We've heard awesome things about their doner pizza, too. Doner meat on a pizza? Sign me up! Oh, and don't forget the garlic sauce!

Okini | Taunusstraße 22, 65183 Wiesbaden, Germany | +49 611 23835808
All you can eat sushi and Asian delights...enough said! If great sushi, marinated steak tips (YUM!), sauteed mushrooms, and potstickers aren't enough to peak your about ordering your entire meal on an iPad? Neat, right?! Okini is just an all-around fun dining experience. It is a bit on the pricey side, though. Their all-you-can-eat dinner will cost you 25 euros per person. For a better bargain, go for lunch at 15 euro instead. :)

Aroma Noodle Bar Mauritiusstraße 1, 65183 Wiesbaden, Germany | +49 611 2408951
I loved this place for a quick bite to eat when I was out shopping downtown with the girls (located just off the main pedestrian zone at Mauritiusplatz). Aroma Noodle Bar has exactly what the name says, NOODLES! But also much, much more. They've got lots of great salads, rice dishes, and desserts, but their claim to fame are their tasty Italian and Asian pasta dishes. My typical order would either be their pesto pasta, Napoli pasta, or their chicken, veggies, & noodles with sweet and sour sauce. 

Thai Express | Langgasse 36, 65183 Wiesbaden, Germany | +49  611 5058508
I never actually got to eat here, but D did often on guys night out (yep, he totally goes on those!). He used to rave about all their spicy chicken & noodle dishes, but somehow forgot to ever take me down there to try it. Mean, right?! ;) He loved Thai Express because their meals were cheap, service quick (so they could get to the bars faster), and the food was always hearty & delicious.

Mayflower Chinese Restaurant (Mainz-Kastel) | Uthmannstraße 8, 55246 Wiesbaden, Germany | +49 6134 258928
Mayflower was one of those places D and I went to when we wanted really tasty Chinese food. We had a hard time finding great General Tso's around Germany, but Mayflower had it! They've also got great sesame chicken, generous combination plates, ginormous spring rolls, and perfectly cooked sticky rice. Every patron is greeted with a small glass of plum wine, so you know I was sold! 

A Little Bit of Everything
Urban Kitchen | Bahnhofsplatz 1, 65189 Wiesbaden | +49 611 71694600
We loved having get-togethers with our friends at Urban Kitchen. Not only is it central to Wiesbaden (located inside the train station), its menu has a little something for everyone. Pizzas, pastas, burgers, Asian dishes, gyros, soups, salads...the list goes on and on! I've tried quite a few different types of cuisines there and they've all been winners. Great cocktail selection, too!

Scotch 'N SodaGoldgasse 9, 65183 Wiesbaden, Germany | +49 611 1714424
Talk about a fun place to dine! Scotch 'N Soda was among one of the first restaurants we ever experienced in Wiesbaden. Burgers, steaks, stews, and a plethora of schnitzels, this Scottish pub-style eatery offers enough meat & pints to keep everyone happy. After dinner hours, the restaurant turns into a bustling pub with a good selection of drinks for all. Don't forget to ask the owner how the dollar bills get up on the ceiling...maybe he'll give you a show! 

Heiliggeist (Mainz) | Mailandsgasse 11, 55116 Mainz, Germany | +49 6131 225757
This place is too cool for words. Heiliggeist translated means "Holy Spirit," which is appropriate because this restaurant is housed inside a former church. Talk about some insanely stunning ambiance! The fare is a little bit all over the place with dishes ranging from club sandwiches and Ahi tuna to penne with orange butter and veal saltimbocca. Even though their menu changes seasonally and varies widely, every dish I've tried has been beyond delicious. You literally can't go wrong.

Citrus (Mainz) | Rheinstr. 255116 Mainz, Germany | +49 6131 216715
Need a great spot for a leisurly lunch date? Citrus is one of my favorites for those! Located along the Rhein River in Mainz, Citrus prides itself on using fresh ingredients to make creative dishes. I love their chicken skewer salad as well as their curry soup. The ambiance is ultra trendy, but the restaurant's building has quite a rich history. You'll just have to go there to learn more!

Ice Cream

Eis Cafe Rialto | Rathausstraße 82, 65203 Wiesbaden, Germany | +49 611 694399
Any time we went downtown for dinner, we ended up at Eis Cafe Rialto for dessert. It's in the perfect location for grabbing a quick scoop and enjoying the views of the Marktplatz. Might I suggest trying their Nutella eis paired with a scoop of Kokonuss (Coconut) eis?  Heaven on a cone! Their spaghetti eis is also pretty rad...a must-try for anyone visiting Germany!


Le Petit Belge (Belgian Beer) Wilhelmstrasse 36, 65183 Wiesbaden, Germany | +49 611 1667720
Hands down our favorite (and most frequented) bar in Wiesbaden. It's no surprise that D and I love Belgian beer, so Le Petit Belge was our go-to bar when that hankering for a Trappist beer came around. It's a small place that can often get crowded, but the owner, Helmut, is super friendly and quite accommodating. They also serve fresh made Belgian waffles, frites, and chocolates! Our one-stop shop for a night of decadence. :) They also do beer tastings and serve Saturday brunch, so join their Facebook page to keep in the loop. If you give Belge a try, tell Helmut hello for us! 

Murphy's Pub | Goldgasse 18, 65183 Wiesbaden, Germany | +49 611 17278155
Located down "Italian Alley," Murphy's Pub is exactly what you think it Irish pub! It's a fun place to grab a pint after dinner downtown or watch a game with all the locals. Lots of great drink specials, so grab your friends and make a night of it...but be aware, smoking allowed!

Ordering In
Lieferheld App & Website
This is an app (or website you can visit if you don't have a smart phone) that holds menus for local delivery restaurants in your area. You can order and pay for your food right there in the app (credit card or PayPal) and it'll be delivered straight to your door! You can also pay cash to the delivery guy, if you wish. We loved this app and used it whenever we didn't feel like cooking or going out. You will have to translate the menus, though. Great practice if you're learning German! App & Website 
Same kind of service as above, just different company. We used both because different restaurants were listed in each. Very user friendly!

My Top Recommendations for delivery:
Domino's Pizza (better than the American version--less greasy!)
Jit's Thai Kitchen
Pizza Boy

More tips for Wiesbaden to come!!!
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