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Dec 31, 2012

Team Cote's Top 20 of 2012

I realize I could have made this obligatory New Year's Eve year in review countdown a bit shorter...like just a Top 10 or a Top 12 to match the year we're sending off...but honestly, there were just too darn many fun and amazing things that happened to us in 2012 that a tiny countdown just couldn't cover. Heck, it was even hard for me to narrow down this epic year into just 20 noteworthy things (because, let's face it, 2012 kind of rocked our socks off). But, for the sake of not boring each of you to tears or delaying any of your NYE festivities (we're taking it easy this NYE, jet lag is one saucy minx), I kept it to only the most awesome of events. So, without further adieu, here's Team Coté's Top 20 of 2012! Cheers to an exciting 2013! May it be your most fabulous year yet, friends!

Our first time skiing in the European Alps was simply magical. No one died, so it was super productive as well. Don't we look cute in our ski gear? I'm still trying to get in contact with Colombia to start our ad campaign. They just don't know what they're missing.

Zandvoort/Amsterdam/Lisse, Holland
Our time in The Netherlands was spent in two different extremes. Half the time we were surrounded by a cloud of smoke in Amsterdam, while the rest of the trip was spent submersed in God's beautiful tulip-filled landscapes of Lisse. It was a wacky (yet memorable) Easter weekend to say the least.

My Big Fat European Family Vacation-Germany/Austria/Italy
D and I took 10 of my favorite family members on a whirlwind 2 week adventure through 3 different European countries. We galavanted around Bavaria, climbing mountains, paddle boating on crystal blue lakes, and exploring some pretty famous castles. After taking a quick pit stop on the Rhine, we then made our way to a dream-like villa in Tuscany to spend a week enjoying Italian cities like Florence, Rome (part 2//part 3), Carmignano, and Cinque Terre. I have to say, it's been one of my favorite vacations yet! And also my favorite travel recap series. A trip of a lifetime to say the VERY least! 

Hello, sexy silver bars!!
After 4 years of serving our country, moving from place to place, deploying for 6 month stents, and working late nights and longs shifts, D was promoted to the rank of Captain in May! It was a huge day for him and a super proud moment for this Air Force wifey right here. :) He continues to amaze me with how much he excels at his job and in his military career. 20 years or bust, right babe?! This was also just about the time we hit the 1 year mark of living in Germany. It was a big summer!

Memorial Day Weekend in Prague
Team Tempia and Team Coté got together and spent a long weekend taking Prague by storm! This beautiful city was such a surprise...so much to do and gobs of history to take in. Not to mention, the food and accommodations were out of this world. Who knew Bohemia would blow our minds?

Rhine Falls, Switzerland & Lake Constance, Germany
To celebrate our 5th year of wedded bliss, D and I packed our bags and made our way down to one of the most gorgeous lakes in Bavaria, Lake Constance! We spent 5 days in our comfy lake-side apartment soaking up the sun and reconnecting over spectacular views and some pretty yummy home cooked dinners. We also did a little bit of sight-seeing, but mostly drinking wine and getting sunburned. This trip was also memorable for another unfortunate reason. Gotta love Europe!

J'adore Paris!-August 2012
Two of our best friends and 4 days in the "city of love?" What more could you want?! We had a blast and a half wandering the streets of Paris and taking in all the sights and sounds of one of the most beautiful and iconic cities on Earth. Eating macarons along the Champs Elysées, dining on Croque Madames, and enjoying nights spent laying on the lawn of the Champs de Mars just staring up at the Eiffel Tower was almost more than my little expat heart could take! We feel so fortunate to have been able to share an experience like that with such dear friends! {More Paris recap posts to come!}

Wiesbaden Rheingau Festival 2012
I never did get around to blogging this...or half of our summer vacations for that matter (I promise, they'll get done)...but this wine festival held in downtown Wiesbaden each August is one for the record books. 10 days and 100 stalls of delicious Rhine Valley wines make this wine festival one of the largest (and most fun) in Germany. It also makes me a very happy Casey! With just a walk down the hill from our apartment, we could spend hours sampling wine and dancing the night away with all of our German buddies. I'm happy to report, D and I made it downtown 6 out of the 10 nights the festival was held. Next year, we're going for all 10!

Move over Betty Crocker!
This year, my kitchen got put to good use. And I have Pinterest to thank for that. It's safe to say my "Good Eats" board is the fullest of any other board I've got going on that time-suck of a website. But, it's given me lots of great ideas for some pretty stellar recipes that I happily shared with you guys over the last year. Remember those Homemade Pop Tarts? Or my Pumpkin Spiced Pancakes? Yeah...you're welcome. Bon appetit! 

Nutritionista's reunited!
Here's another event of 2012 that has yet to be blogged. Man, I kind of suck at this, huh? Anywho, one of my best girlfriends (and fellow foodies) from college and her hubby made a pit stop in Germany to visit us after spending 10 days floating along the Mediterranean with their families. Nice, huh? We hadn't seen the Huffmans in almost 3 years, so this reunion was long overdue...and epic to say the least! So, when ya coming back Huffman's? Huh? Huh?!

Ok, so maybe not 1,000 castles, but it sure as heck felt like it!
What is the one thing everyone wants to do when they come visit us here in Germany? Drink a beer. Duh. But a close second would be seeing a castle. Or two. Or 10. So, that's precisely what we did whenever a new set of visitors rolled into town. Don't get me wrong, we love a good castle (and Germany has got some amazing ones), but please, for the love of all things German, if you come visit us in 2013, let's keep the castle hunting to a minimum. Mmmkay? The final castle count of the year...27. Dear Lord, help us all.

Jolly ol' England & dorking out on Harry Potter
Guys, you know how much I love London. I fell in love with it on our first trip there in October of 2011 and the feeling only gets stronger. This was another one of our spur of the moment trips, planned just after coming back from Paris with only two weekends in between. That just proves how wacky we are for that city. We saw the Jersey Boys at Prince Edward Theatre, marveled at the goodies inside of Harrods, and had high tea at Kensington Palace our first two days there. But probably the greatest part of our London trip was surprising D with a visit to the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour! Now, I've yet to blog this amazing trip as well (are you surprised?), but I promise you, you won't want to miss this post! D completely nerded out that day...and subsequently turned me into a pretty adorkable Potter fan myself. Oh, the things you do for love. ;)

500 followers strong!
And growing everyday! Just a few days before my 26th birthday, the blogging world completely surprised and overwhelmed me with the greatest gift a blogger could want. 500 precious blog followers! Since that special day, I've opened up my advertising spots, hosted some pretty fabulous giveaways, and have made some long lasting connections with some pretty amazing bloggers! I've said it before, and I'll say it a million time more, I'm sure, but I feel so incredibly blessed to be a part of this blogging community! I'm BEYOND excited to see what 2013 will bring for We Took the Road Less Traveled! I'm ready to knock 1,000 out of the park. Only 39 to go! :) :)
Oh yeah, and in honor of 2013...all ad spots are currently 40% OFF with code NEWYEAR! Get on it!

There's not much to say except Oktoberfest. Was. AWESOME! One of the single greatest weekends of our time here in Germany. We drank, danced, and wore ridiculous costumes...all a German's days work, mind you. I had so much fun recapping our experience there...it's probably one of my favorite posts of the year! Add Oktoberfest to your bucket list, people. It's completely necessary.

Weingut Eugen Wehrheim-Nierstein, Germany
Grape picking along the Rhine River fulfilled my dream of seeing one of my favorite fruits turned into one of my favorite beverages. It also confirmed that grape harvesting by hand is one of the hardest, most back breaking jobs in the history of ever. Thankfully, the reward we reaped was well worth it! Wine for all!

A BLATE of Italian Proportions
For all you non-bloggers, blog+date=BLATE. So, basically a meet up of two or more awesome blogging souls. They're kind of a big deal around blog world. This particular blate took me to Italy to meet up with Jessica of Jessica Lynn Writes, who's been one of my best bloggy friends and fellow military wives for some time now. We had so much fun exploring Venice, Burano, and Murano, as well as shopping for pottery in Nove and laughing till our stomaches hurt watching hours of White Collar and the steamy Matt Bomer (yum). If you're a blogger and haven't been on a blate yet, you're SO missing out!! Bloggers make some of the greatest friends in the world! {Oh, and I'll blog about this someday, too. Promise!}

Get Yo Drink On
And that's basically all we did on our weekend trip to Bruges, Belgium right after Thanksgiving. I'm pretty sure D and I tried every Belgian beer there was to try in that city. No joke. I've got the photos to prove it. Which I guess I'll get around to blogging sometime after I blog all the other things I said I'd blog soon in this post. Please don't unfollow me. I'll be a better blogger in 2013. Scout's honor!

Frohe Weihnachten, Freunde!
One of the greatest times of year in Germany is Christmas time. Each city across the country begins opening up their Christmas Markets just after Thanksgiving, filling their Markt squares with Christmas lights, delicious treats, and stalls adorned with ornaments and local handicrafts. If you thought Christmas in the states was a sight to behold, you've not seen anything till you've experienced a Christmas Market in Germany! Feel free to live vicariously through me if you'd like!

The Police Took Timothy!
Ok, so you had to be there. It's almost needless to say, but getting to visit New York City at Christmas time was nothing short of magical. Getting to see it with 5 of your closest (and silliest) family members made the experience heart bursting. From ice skating in Bryant Park to watching the Rockettes high kick at Radio City Music Hall...to say we had THE best time would be a severe understatement! Be looking out for an NYC recap sooner rather than later...so says the procrastinator. :)

Santa Brought Us Home for Christmas!
I want to cry just thinking about the amazing Christmas we just spent back at home with our families in North Carolina. We feel so blessed to have been able to afford two plane tickets home so we could enjoy the holiday season with the one's we hold so dear, yet live so very far away from us most of the year. We did all the traditional Christmassy things we missed out on sharing last year and even added a few new traditions to the mix. We also got in lots of time soaking up America and snuggling up with our sweet baby dog, Tucker. Although the jet lag is beating us up hard this week, the long flights and sleepless nights were so worth it! There's nothing like being home for Christmas. Nothing. Expect a Christmas recap in the very near future!

Well, in the words of my Papaw...that's all she wrote, folks! If you made it to the end of this awesome, albeit long, year in review post...30,000 cool points for you! Believe me, I'm keeping count. ;) Here's wishing you the happiest of New Year's Eve's and a very pleasant and prosperous 2013! See you on the flip side!!

Dec 24, 2012

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Hi friends! Can you believe it's already Christmas Eve? Seems like just yesterday I was hopping a snowy flight from Frankfurt home to NC...and now it's almost Christmas Day! Time really does fly when you're having fun. And we've been having lots of it at home with our families and our friends.There has been a little braving of the shopping crowds searching for the perfect gift, baking of delicious Christmas treats with my mom and sister, and snuggling of sweet nieces and nephews this holiday season. All of which warm my heart and make me wish this time of year would never end. Sadly, like all good things, it will inevitably come to a close, but until then, we're excited about the memories yet to be made as Christmas day makes its appearance tomorrow!

{Instas from home & NYC}

And to you, my sweet friends out in blog land, thank you so much for an amazing year of following along with our life and travels and for all the wonderful comments and connections I've made with many of you this year. I feel so blessed to be a part of this blogging community and to be among such supportive and caring ladies (and gents, of course)!

From our family to yours, we wish you the merriest of Christmases EVER! And let's not forget the reason for this joyous season...the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, from whom all blessings flow! Hug your family, eat tons of sugar cookies, but remember to slow down and take in all the magic of Christmas! And I hope Santa brings each of you something snazzy! 

Love and hugs,
Team Coté
{Our 2012 Christmas Card}

Dec 21, 2012

From Vine to Glass: Grape Picking on the Rhine

I may or may not have mentioned this before, but one of mine and D's lifelong dreams is to own a few acres of land where we can grow grapes and make delicious wine. No, really. Stop laughing. Stranger things have happened. We don't necessarily want to run an entire large scale winery, but we'd love to have a few rows of vines that we can make homemade wine from and share with our family and friends...and maybe a few local shops and restaurants in whatever town we end up settling in after this great Air Force adventure comes to an end. It shouldn't be any surprise that I'm a wine lover...nay, a wine needer. If I was stuck on a desert island and I could only bring one beverage, it would be wine. Or margaritas. But it's kind of hard to grow a margarita, so wine wins. That's why when back in October, D and I had the wonderful opportunity to help harvest grapes in a vineyard along the Rhine River with 20 other people from D's squadron, I all but sold my kidney to get on that picker's list. Funny thing is, I think selling my kidney would have been a lot less tedious and painful than picking grapes.

I kid you not.

Allow me to elaborate. Imagine waking up at the butt crack of dawn,
grabbing a bucket and clippers, and braving a hill full of vineyards just as the chill of autumn begins to set in. Each of us claimed a side of a row of vines and clipped bunches of plump green grapes from dawn until dusk. Dawn until dusk, people. 10 straight hours of bending over, reaching under, plucking from up high, and gathering from down low. Back breaking, knee shaking work. Never ever in my life have I been more physically exhausted than after a day of harvesting grapes (and that's saying a lot coming from a girl who's re-roofed entire homes in the hot Atlanta sun--with help, of course). I seriously don't know how these German vintners do it year after year. The method to their madness is quite fascinating, but nevertheless, utterly exhausting. A few truths became evident that day...I enjoy drinking wine much more than I like making it, and once D and I turn our wine making dream into a reality, we'll be using grape harvesting machines...or hiring people. These hands were made for holding glasses, not picking grapes, I've decided. Thankfully, though, the wine was flowing heavily throughout our picking experience, so it seemed to numb our aching bodies and helped us get the job done. I apologize in advance, Mr. Weinheim, if this years batch of Riesling Sp
ätelese is a little off. After glass 4, I'm not sure which grape bunches smelled ripe or otherwise (if a bunch smells like vinegar, it's already turned bad...but if it has no smell, even if it's covered in mold, it's good to go! There's your picking lesson for the day). While the view was spectacular, it's needless to say...I think I'll skip the grape picking next year. ;)

A few nights later (after I could finally raise my arms over my head again), D and I went back to the winery and enjoyed a 22 bottle vintner's dinner, complete with wine made by the grapes harvested from the brave pickers of 2011. And yes, you read that right...a 22 bottle wine tasting. It was basically heaven. What's even cooler? The bottles of wine that were handpicked in 2011 even have a special squadron lable! A squadron with it's own wine? I think I could live here forever. I can't wait to taste our wine at the vintner's dinner next year!

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Dec 13, 2012

Nüremberg Christkindlesmarkt

The Nüremberg Christmas Market is one of the best-known markets in Germany, boasting over 180 traditionally decorated stalls filled with local handicrafts and regional food specialties to get you in the holiday spirit.The market takes place just below the stunning Frauenkirche ("Church of Our Lady") on the cobble-stoned streets of the Hauptmarkt square in the heart of Old Town Nüremberg. Talk about a beautiful backdrop! This Christmas Market dates back to 1628 and is widely known for its famous Nüremberger brats (yum!), wooden, hand-carved figurines, and Zwetschgenmännle (little dried prune people). You can expect to see about a dozen stalls of each placed about the market. Another Nüremberg Christmas Market favorite is the Lebkuchen, also known as gingerbread to us Americans! D and I aren't huge fans of the Lebkuchen, but we do enjoy the Kartoffelpuffers mit Knoblauchsauce (potato pancakes with garlic sauce)!! Oh and of course, the gluhwein. Can't forget about the delicious gluhwein! While in Nüremberg, we tried a delicious cherry flavored variety. Once you go cherry, you never go back, I've decided. ;) If you have the opportunity to visit Germany during the Christmas Market season, make sure Nüremberg is on your list! It's been one of our favorite markets so far!



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