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Nov 30, 2011

A Saturday in Wiesbaden

A few Saturday's ago, D and I ventured out into the beautiful city 
right outside our front doorsteps.

This is Wiesbaden.
{These are the perks of city living.}

A downtown market full of fresh produce, meats, cheese, and flowers.
 And a wine bar? It's 5 o'clock somewhere!

Signs of the Christmas Market were making an appearance.

Just in case you get cold, Wiesbaden.

Street vendor food after a bit of Christmas shopping.

And oh look...there's a little castle. 
In case you forgot your were in Germany.

A pommes shop we're going to try...one day. 
Samauri Sauce, pleeease.

Dulce's fine chocolates, coffee, and gelato. 
Surely this is heaven.

Wiesbaden's largest Cuckoo Clock? Time to get moving.

On the path home...the Kurhaus. 
D's squadron Christmas party will take place here. 
I. Can't. Wait.

A bit of autumn, still hanging on.

Yummy hot chocolate. Just a sip.

A handsome guy in tote. I'm a lucky girl.

The view on the walk back to our flat. 
Shortcut through the Kurpark.

A German meal to end the day.
Mainz-Kastel, close enough.

Spundekäs and Pork Medallions a la Béarnaise sauce.
Flavor explosion.

And a GIANT Hefeweizen to wash it all down.
Someone's eyes were bigger than his tummy.
Cheers to you, friends far and near!

Just another Saturday in Wiesbaden.
{So in love with our new home}

Nov 28, 2011

Thanksgive{ME} some more mac & cheese, please!

Umm excuse me Father Time, but why are we speeding up life these days? I swear Thanksgiving flew in, coughed up some turkey, and peaced out just about as quick as it came. I felt like I just wrote my thankful post 20 minutes ago. Not 5 days ago. Holy mackerel. Such is the nature of the holidays, I guess! We had a super restful yet productive Thanksgiving weekend. D got off work early on Wednesday (heck yes!), so we got to savor an extra half day of peace and quiet with one another. Add that to my list of things I'm thankful for.

Thursday was spent cooking up a storm. No lie. The smells that were coming from my oven were simply heavenly. Not only did I cook for D and myself, but I also made a green bean casserole and some stuffing to send to D's troops who were stuck working on Thanksgiving. I know what it's like to have a hubby that's essential personnel AND on shift work during the holidays. Been there, hated that. So, I couldn't let those 4 troopers miss out on a yummy Thanksgiving...even if it was from florescent lighted cubicles. D dropped off the food and the boys were all super grateful, and needless to day, scarfed it all down. Totally blessed my heart. 

Here's a few snapshots taken of our meal prep:

Is there anything hotter than a man in the kitchen? I think not. Grate that cheese, baby!

Just call me Betty Crocker! My hair was rockin' that day. 'Twas a Thanksgiving miracle.

Finally, it was time for D and I to inhale our Thanksgiving bounty...and oh what a cheesy bounty it was! If you guys didn't already know, my hubby is an absolute sweetheart. He's pretty much as thoughtful as thoughtful gets. True story. While I was putting the finishing touches on our dessert...he took it upon himself to give our living room some romantic Thanksgiving ambiance. Yep, we ate our delicious Thanksgiving meal at our coffee table. We've got a perfectly good dining room complete with a fabulous table, but D and I wanted to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade while eating (seriously, it's not like the President was coming to eat with us or anything). With the 6 hour time difference from the East Coast...the parade fell in perfect timing with our meal. I quite enjoyed eating in front of the boob tube. And to be honest, that's where we eat the majority of our meals anyway. Why should Thanksgiving be any different?

Before we dug in, I forced asked D to indulge me in a little Thanksgiving photo shoot in front of our glorious spread of food. He obliged, so we sat the camera timer and captured these gems. By the way, how cool is it that the Pumpkin Sekt was actually orange? Very cool, if you ask me.

And here is D going in for round 2. Oh, but wait! Is that a little white flag I see? Yeah, he didn't make it through plate 2 before he had to surrender to the full belly gods. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving if you didn't throw in a little gluttonous misery in the mix. I must admit, all of our dishes came out pretty darn well. I had to improvise with my mac & cheese a bit because our Commissary didn't have the proper cheese (of course). But it was still bangin', nevertheless. D was in charge of cooking the ham. I almost couldn't believe how tasty it turned out! This man has come a long way in his cooking abilities. A LONG way. I might have to start washing the dishes and let him do the cooking! 
Ha...fat chance.

As for the Salted Caramel Cheesecake Pie...it tasted just as good as it looked. Oh yes. Although, I think I could have done without the salt added to the caramel sauce...but D loved the saltiness. Frankly, I was just floored I made a caramel sauce from scratch for the first time ever. It was my crowning achievement for this Thanksgiving meal. 

After we ate our fill, we squeezed in a little Skype time with both of our families. We literally watched my family eat their Thanksgiving dinner. It was like we were there...didn't miss a beat. I got to hear my sweet little nephew tell me he wanted a cup, just a cup, for Christmas (can't believe he's talking now!) and we even participated in a little Just Dance 3 Wii action with my little sis and cousin. D was the winner. I know. Pick your jaw up off the floor. That boy's got moves you ain't never seen before (seriously, what movie is that from? I can totally hear it in my head).

Aren't Skype snapshots great?!

Friday, we did a whole lotta nuttin'. I still in a food coma and was kind of mourning the loss of standing in line at 6 am at Target (if you can hear me Target, I miss you!) with all the other crazy Black Friday patrons. D, on the other hand, decided to wake up at 2:30am and went to stand out in the freezing cold at the Power Zone (kind of like the military version of Best Buy) to see what kinds of deals he could scrounge up. I stayed in my warm, comfy bed. No amount of deeply discounted electronics could have dragged me out of there. If it had been Target, though, I might not have got my pants on (at all) before I'd run out the door to get there! So, like I said, we pretty much did nothing all day...until...we FINALLY went to see Breaking Dawn! Go ahead, hate all you want (cuz haters gonna hate)...but it was great. Not my favorite of the Twilight series, but still worth watching. I even had the most Twilight appropriate movie snack this side of the Atlantic. Seriously, German's? What kind of gummies do you not make?

After finally recovering from our Thanksgiving food coma's, Saturday and Sunday of our long weekend were spent out and about in Germany. We took a trip to Cologne on Saturday and got our yearly Griswold Family Christmas Tree on Sunday! That was an adventure in itself. Check back soon for those posts!

So, there you go. That was our first German Thanksgiving, in a nutshell! We did miss being home with our families, but we made due as always. Now, Team Coté is looking forward to all things CHRISTMAS! Decorating, traveling, and Christmas Markets galore! Stay tuned!

Nov 24, 2011

I'm Thankful For...

...My AH-MAZING husband. He's the peanut butter to my jelly. God broke the mold when He made D, and He made him just for me. I'm quite sure I'm the luckiest girl in the world. Postitive, actually. I couldn't imagine spending one second of this life without him...and we've built an awesome one together. 11 years, never wavering, and he still gives me butterflies. Talk about some good, good lovin'. I love you more today than yesterday, D...until my forever ends.

...Our wonderfully loving family. D and I are so blessed to have the most caring, thoughtful, and close knit bunch of knuckleheads we've ever met to share our lives with. You guys keep us grounded and remind us of the blessed life we come from. You're absolutely the bees knees and I thank my lucky stars God choose you to be our family. All of you. Even you, Wendy. :) Though we can't be there to share in all the food eating, Christmas decorating, and Catch Phrasing that's sure to happen this evening, just know we're there in spirit (probably kicking your butts too!). The most important thing in life is family and we've got a great one!

...Our ever-growing gaggle of friends. You guys are so supportive and so understanding of what this crazy Air Force life has thrown our way these last 4 years. You cheer us on and keep in touch no matter the circumstances. I freakin' love that. Each of you are important to us in your own special way and I hope you know your friendships are cherished, so much, and we're grateful you deemed us worthy of sharing your lives! I know we don't get to see most of you often, but with friends like you, when we do get together, it's like no time has passed. That's true and beautiful friendship.

...Our sweet Tucker dog. He melted our hearts forever when we brought him home (a week before Thanksgiving) 5 years ago. OMG...that sweet puppy face. I tear up just thinking of him! We miss him, terribly. Every. Single. Day. But we both find comfort in knowing he's very loved and well taken care of with my parent's back home. He gets all the belly rubs and soccer ball throwing sessions he could ever want living there with Grandma & Grandpa! We are so grateful to you for taking care of one of the most precious parts of our lives, Mom and Dad!

...Our health. So many people take that for granted these days. I'm glad D and I have had no major medical problems (thus far). We continue to treat our bodies with respect and hope to be able to use them for as long as God will allow us. I know that sounds so weird to say, but other's aren't so fortunate. I'm also thankful for the health and well being of all of our family and friends.

...Technology. Yep, another strange thing to be thankful for, but without telephones, Facebook, Skype, and this very blog, I don't know how D and I would ever make it out here. Keeping in contact with the those we love is SO important to us. With all these avenues of communication, we don't have to miss babies being born, hilariously themed parties, Thanksgiving dinners, or weekly calls with girlfriends. We love keeping up with every joyous occasion as well as tribulations in all of your lives and we're thankful we're able to share the same with you!

...D's job. While military life can be chaotic and ever-changing, it's provided us with a steady income in a messed up economy, a sense of pride that can only come with serving a purpose greater than ourseleves, and a number of outstanding opportunities to experience a life we never thought possible...most notably living in Germany and traveling Europe! As much as we both miss home, miss the holidays with family and friends, and spending time with each other when the Air Force calls...I wouldn't change a single thing.

...Our gracious and merciful Heavenly Father. Without His constant love and guidance, D and I would be two hopelessly lost people. We may not be the best Christians in the world, but our God is forgiving and patient. He loves us unconditionally, faults and skeletons aside. No matter the day, the hour, or the minute, He is with us. That brings me peace. God always provides for D and myself. He never ceases to amaze us with his many blessings on our family. I find so much comfort in knowing He knows everything about us, every fiber of our being, and He created us in His perfect image so that we might find joy and happiness among the trouble and despair of this Earth. I know He has great plans for our lives and I'm so thankful for His teachings and His presence in our family. I'm also thankful to both of our parents for instilling the need for God in us and for taking us to church every Sunday's to learn His Word. We are lucky to have parents who care about the well-being of our souls. We are also blessed to have such wonderful examples of Christian marriage. Our cups runneth over!

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. -Psalms 118:1

As you can see, even with life's uncertain and hectic nature, we all have SO much to be thankful for. In addition to each of these things, I would also like to thank our United States military for all their sacrifices throughout the year. I know many of you are without your loved ones and missing holidays to fight for our great country. That never goes unnoticed in our home. Thank you for all you do to defend our freedom!

Happy Thanksgiving, to each of you! May your bellies and heart's be full today and everyday! Lots of love from Germany!

Nov 22, 2011

Time To BUST Out The Stretchy Pants!!

Ohhhhh yeahhh. Got mine on right now just to test out the stretchy-ness. Mmm hmmm. I do. And they are stretchy awesomeness! I am R-E-A-D-Y for the trip to Flavortown that is sure to go down this Thanksgiving! Now, as I've mentioned before, Thanksgiving is far from my favorite holiday. I just flat out dislike turkey and stuffing. I know...the major staples of most Thanksgiving feasts. Believe me, I TRY every year to make myself enjoy turkey, but I always come up disappointed (although I did try my first bites of fried turkey last week at D's squadron Thanksgiving and it wasn't bad...tasted like chicken...but it wasn't bad).

My thoughts on turkey exactly. (Oh and look, D with his glasses! What a blast from the Thanksgiving past! I know he's glad those glasses wearing days are LONG gone.)
Thanksgiving also hasn't had the best memories associated with it in recent years for D and I. Three years ago, we missed our very first Thanksgiving at home with our families because he was at training in Biloxi and I tagged along. I couldn't let him spend Thanksgiving alone if I was able to be there, ya know? Such is the life of a military wife! So, we ate a GIANT, but lackluster, Thanksgiving dinner at a major hotel and casino down the street. We then spent the rest of the night holed up in our hotel room pouting because this was our first holiday without all of our loved ones. Biggest Thanksgiving bummer ever...until last Thanksgiving Day. My MeeMaw, the cornerstone of my Mom's family, passed away that day. It was a horribly sad Thanksgiving...and to make matters worse, D and I were stuck on the tropical island of Cuba while this all went down back in NC (D was deployed there and I came for a visit...coolest deployment ever, right?). I hated every second of not being home when my family, and my MeeMaw, needed me most...but my hands (and the military's hands) were tied and they couldn't get us home. So, you see, our last few Thanksgivings have been less than ideal to say the very least.

MeeMaw and her 'grandbabies'
This year though, we're embracing being away from home for the holidays. Nope, no sad saps here! I'm pretty sure MeeMaw wouldn't want us sulking around, thinking about how we're all not together this year. She's here, she's watching over us as we butcher her sweet potato casserole recipe, and she's smiling. I know it. No point in wallowing in self-pity when there's lots of thankfulness and joy to be spread around! That's what MeeMaw would want...and a piece of Coconut cake...but that's neither here nor there.

D and I decided to spend this Thanksgiving just the two of us. I originally thought about cooking a whole mess of food and inviting over all of our new friends here in Germany, but then I thought how incredibly stressful and, quite frankly, bananas that sounded. We just moved here, we're just now starting to get settled, and we've got no artwork on our walls yet. NONE. And yes, I can be that vain sometimes. Thanksgiving, just the two of us style, sounds like perfection. No worries though, we will be Skyping in with our families all throughout the day. Believe me, I've got to at least see all the yummy food I'm missing out on, even if it's through a grainy computer screen. And I've GOT to virtually squish this little one's face. GOT TO.

Scrumptious, isn't he? The baby, not the hubby. Although, he totally is too. :)
I told D that we are not allowed to be gluttons this year. There are a BAGILLION and a half things I want to make for it to feel like a normal Thanksgiving, but that's ridiculous seeing as it's just the two of us. So, I  said we could each pick one outta-this-world side dish to make to go with our scrumptious honey glazed ham (isn't D a sweetie!? He loves turkey, but is letting me make a ham since turkey is the bane of my existence. I mean, who can argue with the bane of someone's existence? Really.) We also had to decide on one dessert.

So, what's on the menu for our Thanksgiving?

(Click the link and you'll see the recipes. Especially the Mac & Cheese one. I had to wrack my brain to figure out how to share that one with the world!  Aren't I sweet?)

Yeah, you read that correctly. We're having three cheese-tastic dishes. Judge all you want. We may not go to the bathroom for a week after this meal (seeing as we HATE using our German toilet anyway, no biggie), but we love cheese. And I make the most bangin' Mac & Cheese in the history of everdom. For reals. So, CHEEZAPALOOZA THANKSGIVING IT IS! Oh and can I just take a second to say how much I love Joy the Baker. I've got a mini girl crush. No lie. D and I voted on making a dessert that neither of us have ever eaten, but have been dying to try. Who better to choose from than Joy?  She's got some AH-MAZING looking desserts. This cheesecake pie is NO exception. I can only hope I do it justice. I've got brownies on stand-by, just in case.

The infamous Mac & Cheese. It's 'slap your Mama' good. And creamy. But please, don't slap your Mama. That's not nice.

So, that's the down low for our Thanksgiving. Got the stretchy pants, got memories of home and my sweet MeeMaw tucked away safe in my mind, and I've got lots of cheesy goodness ready for baking. With so much to be thankful for this year, it really doesn't matter how or where we spend Thanksgiving. All I know is that it will be wonderful. Our kind of wonderful. Perfect is a state of mind, not a state of being, you know? Besides, what's perfect anyway? Now, I'm off to get cookin'! Here's wishing each of you out in blog world a wonderfully delicious Thanksgiving!!

I'd love to hear from you guys!
What are you thankful for? How will your Thanksgiving be different this year? Any new traditions, new foods, new places you'll be for your holiday dinner?

Nov 18, 2011

It's The Little Things

In the spirit of the holiday season, most notably Thanksgiving since it's literally right around the corner (where did the time go?!), I've decided it's the perfect time to link-up with Lindsay from Aisle to Aloha for her weekly 'little things' post!

Aisle to Aloha

What's 'the little things' post all about? Well, I'll let Lindsay explain...
"...Two verses convinced me that God has beautiful lives planned for each of us. Sometimes rough things happen to us and life is not guaranteed to be easy, but if we stop to think about it, our days are filled with small things that are big blessings..."

Couldn't have said it better myself! So, without further adieu, here is my list of 'little things' that have blessed my heart this past week!

Last Friday, I had the wonderful pleasure of FINALLY meeting a bloggy friend in real life! Happy dance! K from over at Uncorked and Unwined, one of my favorite daily reads, grabbed our hubby's and met up for dinner at a fabulous little Italian restaurant here in Germany! We ate some darn good pasta, drank a little vino, and talked and talked about everything under the sun! D and I even got to meet their new bundle of ADORABLE joy! She's absolutely scrumptious (and no, I don't eat babies, just like to nibble them.) K and her hubby are super wonderful and I feel so blessed that this blogging adventure has lead me to meet some incredible people that I hope to call lifelong friends someday. I can't wait to meet up with them again...soon! Wine and game night? I'm SOOO in!

Some of my most favorite times of the week are when D and I get to plop down on the couch together, indulge in some delicious meal with a glass of German wine, and catch up on our favorite shows stocked up in the DVR (have I mentioned how much I love the Slingbox? Cause I do, like a lot). It's in those moments that I forget we are 4,000 miles away from home and we escape into our own little comfortable world where things are familiar. I'd take 1,000 of those moments over a fabulous sight-seeing adventure...any day. They keep me grounded and remind me to slow down and take in every last drop of this amazing life we've been blessed with. Who knew wine and cheese could bring so much perspective?

In addition to how rejuvenating a little quiet time can be with your spouse, a little care package from Mom can totally lift your spirits and put a BIG smile on your face. Boy, is my Mom good at these or what?! Her little Thanksgiving care package included all of our favorite goodies from the states (that we can't seem to find here) including the best no-calorie sweetener ever made, yummy organic real fruit strips from Target, shampoo, chap-stick, Halloween candy, Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts (I don't normally eat Pop-Tarts, but holy calories are those GOOD!), our favorite devotional books, and of course, a little Michael Bublé to help sing us through the holiday season. The cuteness doesn't stop there...she even included a few Thanksgiving themed plates and napkins for D and I use for our own Thanksgiving meal next week. My Mom's a thoughtful genius and I love her to little, tiny pieces.

There was one stipulation to the opening of our care package...we had to Skype with Mom so she could see us open it! So, last night, after driving back from Bible study in Frankfurt, D and I couldn't wait any longer to see what goodies were inside...so we clicked that little blue button and called. Aside from all the awesome treats we got, it was so nice to just shoot the breeze with my parents. I call Mom every few days to check in on life, but Skyping is so much more fun! She was cracking us up with here usual Mom-isms (computer cables/cords are not called tubing, Mom...the nurse really comes out in her sometimes!) and they showed us the progress they've made with their kitchen remodeling project! My Dad is not only Mr. Fix-it, but is Mr. Do-It-Yourself...I love seeing his handy work! I'm also over the moon proud of him. He's recently lost 30 lbs! 30!! Since September! I'm amazed. He's looking so great and getting super healthy...and that makes this nutrition nut's heart happy! Another thing that makes me smile, seeing our sweet Tucker dog looking so happy and loved there with my family. Feels so good knowing the decision we made to leave him stateside is turning out to be the best thing for him! Thanks for being such great caretakers, Mom & Dad!

I also had a few entertaining phone dates with the little sister this week. She makes me laugh. Hard. Would you please just move out here with us already, Wendy Lou Hoo? 

I'm well aware that this really isn't a "blessing" per se, but I'm loving The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie by the Red Hot Chili Peppers right now. It's staving away the depression that comes along with continuous crappy weather. It has been SUPER gloomy outside here lately and I swear I haven't seen the sun shine in at least 12 days...but this song pumps me up and makes me wanna dance. Like kick off your shoes and slide across the floor Risky Business style kind of dancing. For reals. It's worth a listen.

And lastly, this week, I've gotten in a lot of good "me" time. Truth be told, I'm home alone a lot here, but this week my alone time was super productive. I don't know what little fire got lit under my butt, but I've been finishing a few Pinterest craft projects, wrapping a crap-ton of Christmas presents (way ahead of Christmas schedule, I might add), doing some writing, cooking up a storm, and spending some time getting down to figuring out my purpose here. Little emails, articles, and devotions I've read are starting to plant seeds of thought and ambition I'd been fighting off because of fear and self-doubt. Now, I'm listing to God and his plans for me with open ears and an open heart for the first time in a long time. Something about a little prayer, rooster PJ's, and those chocolate KrispyJ's (courtesy of my loving Mother and Krispy Kreme Daddy) gives me comfort and reassurance that I'm doing just fine. I'm excited for what might be to come in 2012!

What 'little things' have blessed your heart this week? Link-up with Aisle to Aloha and share the wealth!
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