Oct 3, 2014

My ABC's of Travel

I have no clue where I saw this prompt originally (because I definitely wasn't smart enough to think it up--thanks whoever you are!), but it's been in the back of my drafts for some time now. I kept thinking I'd make it some kind of fun link-up, but honestly, it's Friday and I've hit a blogger wall called the weekend and I can't think any further than a large pepperoni pizza, glass of wine, and a trip to the movies to see Gone Girl. Ya feel me? This week druuggg on, y'all. Big confession: I've been feeling a little down about the lack of travel plans in our near future lately. My calendar is basically empty until after the new year and it feels super weird. Life's so different now that we're back stateside, but the 3 years we spent jaunting from country to country remain in the forefront of my mind most days. I miss Europe. I miss hopping in the car and knowing I'd be in a different country within mere hours. I miss being in awe of things. So, I thought this kind of piece might be a nice prelude to the weekend...and to us taking yet another trip to Epcot for the Food & Wine Festival because, honestly, I need some fake countries (and real wine) in my life right now. I've mentioned wine twice already. The struggle is real. 

Feel free to play along, sweet readers. I'd love to hear your travel ABCs!


A) Age you went on your first international trip:
I was 14 and went on a mission trip with my Youth Group from church to Melo, Uruguay. It was one of the most eye opening, life changing experiences of my life and I'd love to get back to South America someday.

B) Best foreign beer you've had and where:
De Struis Pannepot Vintage Grande Reserva 2008--hands down best beer I've ever tasted. I tried it for the first time at Café Rose Red in Bruges, Belgium and have been in love with it ever since! Belgian beers are the best in the world! This coming from a former beer hater...says a lot!



C) Cuisine (favorite):
Hmmm this is a hard one. I really love both German and Italian cuisine, but I could never eat either of them day in and day out. Too many carbs and rich sauces...ironically enough also the reasons why I love them. I'm also reallllly fond of Swiss fondue and Spanish tapas. Basically cover anything in cheese and pair it with sangria and I'm sold.

D) Destinations--favorite, least favorite, and why?:
Most favorite: London. It's somewhere I've always wanted to visit and seeing it with my own two eyes for the first time was absolutely magical. I cried....and I cry every time I leave. There's something about that city that just calls to me! Least favorite: Amsterdam. It was the first city I've ever really been lost in. The whole place is like a labyrinth of canals and small alleyways. We had limited time to explore, so getting lost/not being able to find certain attractions really put a damper on our time there. Plus, there really isn't any one thing I can remember being totally awesome about it. I feel like I need an Amsterdam re-do.


E) Event you've experienced abroad that made you say "wow":
Seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle against the moonlight. Watching fireworks explode by the hundreds over the skyline of Wiesbaden, Germany on New Year's Eve. Walking out from the tube station on Westminster Bridge in London and seeing Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament for the first time. Spending a week in a Tuscan villa with my entire family. Skiing down the Swiss Alps with the Matterhorn just feet away. Walking through the hills of Positano, Italy a few summers ago. Riding donkeys in Santorini, Greece. Watching snake charmers in the souks of Marrakech, Morocco. Walking the walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia. Almost too many "PINCH ME!" moments to count!

F) Favorite mode of transportation:
Can none be my answer? I hate the actual process of traveling...taking planes, trains, and cars to get to your final destination. I so wish teleportation devices really existed. I'd buy one in a heartbeat. BUT, if I had to pick just one mode of transport...I guess train travel would be the lesser of the evils. 

G) Greatest feeling while traveling:
When you finally arrive to your hotel, freshen up, and step out into whatever city your visiting to start exploring for the first time. The world seems so vibrant and "mine for the taking" in those first few exciting moments. It's an electric feeling!

H) Hottest place you've ever traveled to:
Probably Tulum, Mexico. We went at the end of July when it was super hot and humid. Wandering around Chichen Itza was almost unbearable.

I) Incredible service you've experienced and where?:
Aboard the Celebrity Reflection on our very first cruise around the Mediterranean. Impeccable EVERYTHING. We felt like spoiled rotten travelers after 12 days on that ship.

J) Journey that took the longest:
Definitely my trip to Uruguay. Our flight from Miami, FL to Sao Paulo, Brazil (one of 3 different legs of our journey) was just about 13 hours long. I remember coming home from that trip and having to cut off my ankle bracelet because my legs were so swollen from sitting on an airplane (and consuming so much salt in the form of sodas/mineral water since the tap water wasn't safe to drink in Uruguay) for so long.

K) Keepsake from your travels:
I typically bring back some little tchotchke from everywhere we travel (usually whatever handicraft that city is famous for) and put them on a bookcase in our living room. They're fun little conversation pieces when friends come to visit. We also love bringing home ornaments or local alcohol from places we travel.

L) Let-down sight, where and why?:
We were really disappointed with the inside of Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. It's GORGEOUS and so fairytale-like from the outside, but inside is just blahhhh. Probably because King Ludwig was only able to finish one level of the castle's interior before he died, but those are things they don't tell you until you've got the ticket in hand and are walking through the turnstiles. Such is life.



M) Moment where you fell in love with traveling:
Gosh, this is hard to pinpoint for me. I've always felt a need to travel, but I guess since we moved to Germany and lived in the heart of Europe for 3 years, you could say that's where I really ignited my love for seeing the world. Another rule of thumb: if I cry when arriving to or leaving a destination...you know it really, really meant a lot to me. Only a handful of places carry that bragging right.

N) Nicest hotel you've stayed in:
Sandals Ocho Rios in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Best food & service. Best room (can you say oceanfront honeymoon penthouse?!). Best beach. I still have dreams about that place...and our beautiful honeymoon! All-inclusive resorts are definitely the way to go. We're hoping to give another Sandals Resort a try now that we're back in the states. I'm thinking either St. Lucia or Grenada. :)



O) Obsession--what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:
This might sound weird, but I have photos of manhole covers from every city I've ever visited. Most have the name and city seal on them, so they're like a photographic reminder of the city we visited. I know, I know. I'm strange. And I'm ok with that. :)

P) Passport stamps-how many and from where?:
I'd love to tell you I have 32 different passport stamps, but the truth is, even though we've traveled all over Europe, we only acquired a handful of stamps while living abroad. Interestingly enough, our Amsterdam stamps happened only because we were flying from the UK and had a layover there. In the EU, if you visit multiple Schengen countries (the 26 countries that have abolished immigration and passport checks at their common borders) then, of course, you miss out on stamps. It sucks, but travel isn't all about getting that stamp in your passport. It's about the memories you make while visiting that country! Shut up...I lie, it's fun getting stamped, isn't it? But for the sake of this question...we do have stamps from Mexico, Jamaica, the USA, St. Petersburg, Russia, Slovenia, San Marino, London, & Amsterdam...and I also have stamps from Uruguay and Brazil.

Q) Quirkiest attraction you've visited and where?:
I'd have to say the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour in London. It's not something I would have ever in a million years thought I go do, but the hubby loved every second of it. And I may or may not have turned into a Harry Potter fan because of it. We nerded out hard core that afternoon. ;)



R) Really Frightening: where's one place you've visited where you felt unsafe or uneasy?
I felt uneasy wandering the streets of Marrakech, Morocco. Some areas of the city are beautiful, but much of it is dirty, overcrowded, and a bit sketch. Having a military husband traveling with you everywhere you go definitely makes you see certain cities through cautious eyes. I also felt pretty on edge going through customs in St. Petersburg, Russia. Talk about a stare down for the ages. {{shivers}}

S) Splurge-something you have no problem spending money on while traveling:
Wine. Or cheese. Or a flight on a non-budget airline so I can bring all the luggage I want.



T) Touristy thing you've done:
More like what touristy thing HAVEN'T we done. The answer would be...we've done them all! My favorite might have to be our bus tour around Paris. And attending Oktoberfest in Munich. We love a good mix of touristy things and 'off the beaten path' type adventures.

U) Unforgettable travel memory:
It's impossible to pick just one!! I really loved this dinner from our first overnight trip in Germany. And cruising through the fjords in Montenegro. And watching the sunset sink into the ocean at midnight while our cruise ship was docked in St. Petersburg, Russia. Totally bananas. 

V) Visas-how many and for where?:
We haven't had to get a visa just yet...although we've traveled to Turkey & Russia where visas are needed for Americans. Without them being ports on our various cruises, we would have had to get visas for each country ourselves. That's one awesome thing about cruising...they take care of the travel grunt work for you!



W) Wine--best glass while traveling:
German Riesling Spatelese will ALWAYS rein supreme in my book! Living in German wine country proved to be quite rewarding and educational for this wine-loving gal. Getting to pick grapes along the Rhein River and then have it turned into bottles of wine I serve to our friends during gatherings at our house is just about the coolest thing we've ever done.

X) eXcellent view and from where?:
The views from the top of the Eiffel Tower were amazing, but I'm also partial to the stunning views we saw from the tiny country of San Marino and on the drive around Mt. Lovcern in Montenegro. And nothing beats standing atop the German, Swiss, or Austrian Alps. Getting up high is one of our favorite things to do while traveling! ;)

Y) Years spent traveling: Umm...I'm not sure I understand this question completely, but I've been traveling with my family since I was an infant. Most trips growing up were to the beach, Disney World, or somewhere around the US, but I was still traveling somewhere at least once a year. As of 3 years ago, D and I have been almost non-stop traveling. I like to think of us a tumbleweeds most days. Now that we're back stateside, we hope to explore more of the good 'ol USA, the Caribbean, and Central America.



Z) Zealous sports fans and where?:
Germany has some seriously whackadoodle sports fans. When the World Cup was going on a few months ago (before we left Germany for good), the streets were exploding with loud cheering, screaming, and car horns late into the night after Germany games. Germans were out wandering the streets (coming from bars and restaurants) covered in face paint and team jerseys. Traffic was HORRID coming in and out of downtown and around the football arenas (where they were having massive viewing parties). Wasn't hard to guess where all the cars were coming from as most were decked out with German flags. They take their fussball pride VERY seriously over there! We had a lot of fun joining in and cheering our host country on!


Take the challenge! Write up your own ABC's of travel and leave me the link to your post in the comments section!

53 comments:

  1. Love this idea! I will be writing one like this for sure, such a great list with an insight into your travel history :)

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    1. Thanks, Kiki! Please do...would love to read it! :)

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  2. Such a clever post...kudos to whoever thought of it (and to you for following through with your version)! I gotta say, I love your letter "O". I never would think to take pictures of manhole covers but I think it's really neat. A unique, and special, point of view. I'd actually love to see a compilation of them (hint, hint). Have a lovely weekend!

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    1. Hahaha thanks, girl! I so wish I could remember where I saw it first...but it was probably 2 years ago! That's how long it was sitting marinating in my drafts! :)

      I used to think it was so weird taking photos of manhole covers, but over time I embraced my draw to them. Now I have friends who take photos of covers they see on their travels and they send them to me. It's become a fun little game. :)

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  3. This is SO fun! I loved reading your answers!! I might have to steal it! Also, that pic of you guys in the German outfits is SO awesome!!! xoxo

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  4. I can definitely feel you on the lack of travel plans! I have to concentrate more on Uni again now that I'm back in Germany and having no real travel plans at this point in time makes me feel very strange… but I'm sure we'll have new plans before we know it! :)

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    1. Life changes, so you've just gotta adjust and change perspectives with it, right? Someday travel will be a priority for us again...but for now, our lives our focused more on making our new house a home and enjoying all that Florida has to offer. :) I'm sure we'll have a little day trip or two littered in just to keep me sane!

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  5. This is a really fun post. I don't blog, but I want to play along. I don't think I could really pick a favorite place. I always want to go back to wherever I've been. I haven't been quite as many places around the world as you (someday! :), but my 6 week study abroad in England took care of Ireland, Scotland, Paris, and obviously multiple places around England. Then I've also been to Mexico, Germany, Italy, Austria, and the south of France. I can understand what you say about missing being in awe of things. I don't know if I've ever been somewhere in Europe that just didn't make me look around in wonder. I went to Germany with my family when I was 19, and if I hadn't had that experience, I wouldn't have studied abroad. It really made me want to see the world.
    I want to answer your E question about what made you say Wow. Although that's happened a lot, by far the one that sticks out is Cinque Terre. Specifically seeing the town of Manarola from the hiking path. I had wanted to see Cinque Terre for so long (it was #1 on my travel bucket list). My husband and I did a 10 day trip to Italy and France when he graduated from grad school 2 years ago, and we revolved our itinerary around Cinque Terre. When we finally got there, I got a migraine that started in the night before we were set to hike it. I was so upset. But I pushed through and even with almost no sleep and a migraine (that was dissipating), coming across that site made me tear up. It was just so beautiful, and I was finally SEEING this beautiful image I had seen so many times in photos. I'll remember it forever. I think I'[l chase that feeling forever. Okay, there's my book of a comment. :)

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  6. Oh gosh, the grape picking looks awesome!!

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  7. This is such a great post! I was really disappointed with the inside of Neuschwanstein Castle too...but I would go back because the outside is so beautiful! I get depressed when I don't have a trip planned too. Even if a trip I planned is really far off, it still helps to have something to look forward to!

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  8. What a fun post. Love reading all of your answers

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  9. Um. I love everything about this post and I'm bookmarking it so I can read it again later. PS: I LOVE that you take pictures of manhole covers, I think it's pretty genius! I would totally print them all and do a mini picture collage--maybe all black and white photos with black frames...

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    1. Why thank you, Sarah! It's quirky, but I love it! And I'm totally going to have to do the picture collage! WHAT A FAB IDEA!!!!

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  10. This post is awesome, such a brilliant idea! Loved your answers, I'll be sure to do it myself. x

    Eärendil

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  11. Ok, officially going to start taking pictures of manhole covers. That's such a great idea.

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  12. I can relate about going through customs in St Petersburg, Russia. It took us a very long time waiting in line and then finally when you get there.. the fierce STARES that will make anyone nervous..Can you imagine if your D's occupation is written on his passport? He will be detained for hours! You have always done a great post and I truly enjoy them. I can't wait to see your post on Slovenia.

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    1. Oh goodness! I doubt we would have been able to get off the boat if that had been the case!! Thanks so much, Nilda!

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  13. Of course you had the best beer in Belgium, how else is that possible? I'm gonna save this on bloglovin and will do later for sure! :)

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  14. I love this idea! And I understand your last comment only too well...my German husband brought some german flag covers for his car mirrors back from a trip over there during the World Cup - after they won they stayed on his car for a month! He finally got his World Cup winners germany shirt the other day...it's now hanging in pride of place in his closet, not in between other shirts, on show, in the middle of the rack! German football price is taken very seriously indeed!

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    1. Thanks, Rachel! We contemplated joining the craziness and decking out our apartment balcony with flags, but then our landlords took care of that for us with balloons and flags ALL OVER the front of our building. It was a lot of fun to see a whole country united for one sport. :)

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  15. this is an awesome idea - i am definitely going to have to work on this - I also have to say London is one of my favorite places in the world as well! I haven't spent much time in Europe as an adult, we lived there for 5 years of my childhood, and I feel like I really need to get back some day and rediscover so many places!

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    1. London is AWESOME! I want to be there now. Right now. :)

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  16. ugh. I'm feeling the weight of Europes past too. its heavy and Paris is so far. the struggle IS real - cheers to the freakin weekend galfriend!

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    1. Like a gut punch, isn't it? I may need therapy after this. ;)

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  17. Ah that is such a good post idea, and super informative!

    —————————–
    20 year old travel blogger
    http://the-living-spree.blogspot.co.nz/

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  18. Loved reading about your travels! This is a cool prompt idea!! Ahhh so many places I still want to go! I will agree with San Marinos view its breathtaking! :)

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  19. I LOVE this prompt!! I may just have to steal this for my blog someday! ;)

    I agree with you about Amsterdam. For some reason I didn't love it either, even when everyone else seems to. It could be because it was so deathly hot when we went. I think it deserves a 2nd chance though. And I had no idea that you also went to Uruguay!! I love that! I spent almost a month there and fell in love with the country and its people. That's so cool that you went, because not a lot of people have been!!

    I hope you're having an awesome weekend at Epcot!

    - Anna (from Slightly Astray)

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    1. Thanks, Anna! Be sure to write one up! Glad I'm not the only one with a rough Amsterdam experience. I do hope to go back and give it another try someday, but it still remains my least favorite place. We did have fun, but getting lost is THE WORST. Uruguay, however, was a total wow experience! I've got to get back to South American sooner rather than later. Such a fascinating continent!

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  20. What a fun post!! I loved reading each one and I think I may have to just steal these prompts!!! I also experienced the blood boiling heat of Chichen Itza. I'm wiping my brow just thinking about it!

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    1. Definitely write up your own! I'd love to hear about your travel history, too! :)

      And Chichen Itza...like walking on the face of the sun, that place. Oy!

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  21. Sad to hear that the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany was a letdown. I've always wanted to visit!


    beck daily

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    1. Definitely go and see at least the outside of it!! It's so worth seeing from the Marien Bridge. Then skip the inside and go to Linderhof Palace instead. Now that's a palace!

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  22. Loved the tag - totally feel you on the travel withdrawals so I loved the idea of doing this tag
    Here's mine:
    http://www.travelust.ca/2014/10/abcs-of-travel-tag.html

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    1. AWESOME!! Thanks for playing along, girl!!

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  23. Loved this!! We are so excited to experience our first holiday season in Germany! Would you be willing to share your favorite, tried and true Christmas Markets in Germany? I would be so very grateful :)

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    1. Oh goodness...Wiesbaden's is perfection...Stuttgart is great...Nuremburg is a must see...and Rothenburg ob der Tauber is just about the cutest place ever at Christmas! You honestly can't go wrong with any Christmas Market, in my opinion. Have lots of gluhwein for me!

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  24. I just stumbled over your blog, fascinating Germany seen through the eyes of an american, some very keen observations, sometimes hillarious (rolladen and poop shelves). Weiterhin viel Glück und alles Gute !

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    1. Hahaha thanks, Maxi! Glad you found me! :)

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  25. Fully heartedly agree with B & O

    We live in Brussels right now and while we'd had De Struise, we discovered a ton more of their great beers that they only have on tap at their brewery. Definitely worth a visit if you ever find yourselves back on this side of the pond.

    http://wearethedreamersofdreams.com/

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    1. Oh yes, we ventured out to De Struise Schoolhouse twice before we moved back stateside! And we shipped 4 crates of all kinds of their beers back home with us. D even scored a half case of 2006 Pannepots we've been holding onto for special occasions. SO GOOD! Give Belgium a nice hello for me! :)

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  26. Loved reading this and had to do it myself!
    http://www.anarrowgate.com/2014/10/my-abcs-of-travel.html

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  27. Wonderfull idea. I will use your idea but I will write it in Dutch. Next week you will find it on http://hilderik.liekenspeeters.be

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    1. Awesome! Thanks for playing along!

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  28. I'm definitely going to do this too! I had no idea about the manhole covers, I'm going to check them out everywhere I go now!

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  29. I LOVE this! I am going to also borrow this idea soon, it's such a fun one! Although it might take me a few years to write it haha. Thanks for sharing! I take pictures of manhole covers everywhere, too! Especially here in Europe they're really cute!!

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  30. I love this! Just did it myself.

    Katie
    wanderingwalpole.com

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  31. Such a fun post and a great way to share travel recommendations. I love cruises as well! I just posted my own ABC's of travel yesterday: http://www.alifelessbeige.com/article/travel-prompt-my-abcs-of-travel/

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  32. Great blog! This really inspires me to continue with my blog.

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  33. I love your European adventures! I'm sure you miss it all the time. What a fun list you've got though! This was so inspiring that I wrote up a list of my own. It felt so good to reminisce on all my travel memories and choose a few favorites, although some of the letters were tricky! I really had to search through my brain. Feel free to check it out: https://travelingmegpie.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/the-abcs-of-travel/

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  34. Nice! I'd write one like this too! And I wanna see you share your travel experience in Asian countries too! :)

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I appreciate your feedback, friends! I read every comment and try my hardest to respond to each one, but if your email address isn't attached to your blogger profile, you might find my response in the comment thread instead. As always, thanks for reading!

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