Jan 30, 2015

Utrecht, Netherlands: Castle De Haar


Back in early spring of last year, D and I took a trip through various parts of Belgium and the Netherlands with another couple. We did a handful of beer tours/tastings (more on those to come), wandered around some gorgeous Dutch towns (Utrecht & Tilburg, to be exact), and experienced one of Europe's best-kept castles…Castle De Haar. If you've ever Google searched fairytale castles in Europe, you'll likely come across and aerial view of Castle De Haar, the Netherlands largest and most famous castle. It's…in one word…marvelous. Aside from the outside of Germany's famed Neuschwanstein Castle, I'd say it's the 2nd most impressive castle I've seen through all my European travels.

The castle itself was entirely restored and partially rebuilt in the 19th century, but historical records of a building at this location date all the way back to 1391. Castle De Haar is special because it's one of the only few castle across Europe with the same paramount image of a medieval fortress--towers, canals, ramparts, and drawbridges, just to name a few charming qualities. It's literally the exact image I had in my head of what a true castle would look like, if I were living a few centuries back in time. There were even swans swimming in the ponds. Total fairytale castle if I ever saw one.


The only way to see the inside of the castle is to purchase a guided tour, but we were short on time and, honestly, with as many castle interiors we'd seen over the years, we were fine skipping the tour. The real star of the show is always the castle façade, for me at least. I would also recommend wandering around the gardens surrounding the castle. The smell of blooming flowers was unbelievably strong and made our walk even more pleasant.


If you ever find yourself with an hour to spare around Utrecht, don't hesitate to hunt down this beautiful reminder of Netherlands history!

Castle De Haar- Kasteellaan 1, 3455 RR Haarzuilens
Castle open daily 11am-5pm (guided tour required for entry)
Guided Tour: €14
Entrance to park/gardens: €4
Parking fee: €4
Tours start on the hour with 2 English tours daily. 
English audio tours available as well.

Jan 28, 2015

That Crazy Wrap Thing: It Works! [WRAP GIVEAWAY!]

Like clockwork, January 1st rolls in and a new year full of resolutions blasts into the forefront of our minds. Just like most Americans, I make resolutions based on whatever goals I have for myself. Lose weight, drink more water, sleep at least 8 hours a night, exercise 4 times a week, try new foods, see new destinations...the list goes on a on! Also like clockwork, the second February 1st hits the calendar, I give up on all my resolutions because they're just too darn much. And I like my fro-yo, let's be real. 

This year, D and I resolved to do all those things above, except unlike year's past, we actually made a plan to achieve those goals. And we've got an arsenal of new products to help us get there! I've been reading and hearing about It Works (that crazy wrap thing) for months. In fact, I've got a handful of friends who are distributors...but none as ON FIRE for the It Works products and company as my friend and fellow MilSpouse Tessa! I met Tessa through Jessica (of Jessica Lynn Writes blog) during my week-long trip to Italy back in the fall of 2012. Our meeting was brief, but we've kept in touch...and just a few weeks ago she approached me about advertising her booming It Works biz on my blog. Because I've been intrigued about the body wraps for so long (and a bit of a skeptic because of my nutrition background), I jumped at the chance to work with Tessa!



Within a week, Tessa had hooked me up with lots of It Works products to try, including body wraps, Greens, Thermofit, Confianza, and FatFighter. I was most excited to try the wraps (who doesn't want to smooth and tone up that belly?) and the Greens (because everyone sings their praises). Here's a quick review of the products I tried:

Body Wrap Review: I decided to try the wrap in the typical fashion it's used by most...the belly! I knew I probably wouldn't see huge results only wearing the wrap for the suggested 45 minutes (time recommended for first-timers to make sure you don't react negatively to the product), so I checked my skin after the 45 min and left it on for another 2.25 hours. I will tell you, the sensation you get on your skin after putting on the wrap and it starts to work its magic was a little off-putting at first. Your skin tingles a bit, like you've got some sort of peppermint scrub on from the spa. It smells like that, too! I had to text Tessa and double check that this warm/cold feeling was normal and she assured me it was. Whew! As time rolled by, I hardly noticed the sensation anymore. She also recommended I drink lots of water before, during, and especially after wrapping, so while I sat and watched a movie with my wrap, I had a large bottle of water close by. After 3 hours wearing my first body wrap, I could definitely tell a difference in the way my skin felt. It felt tighter, more taut and less jiggly. WOO! From the before & after photos that I took (which will never see the light of day...sorry), I could tell I had a smoother mid-section, but I couldn't visibly see any inches lost. I wasn't really expecting to see any major changes with my first wrap, but I was excited that my mid-section felt tighter. I didn't feel the need to hold anything in! 3 days later, my tummy still felt tight, smooth, and less jiggly. That in itself was worth it.

A few weeks later after I ordered a full box of wraps, D and I wrapped our mid-sections and experienced the exact same results...tighter, taut tummies! D was hilarious, though...asking a million questions and constantly wanting to peek at his tummy before time was up. Like a little kid, that man! A few days later, I wrapped my arm fat (you know, the "batwings") and, again, the smoothness and tightness was obvious. 3 days later, still tight and they look to me, less hangy (for the lack of a better word). Next time I wrap them I'll take measurements, because I really feel like they're a smidge smaller.

Throughout our wrapping trials, D and I both ate normally and worked out at least 2 times a week. Nothing over the top, but I imagine if we wrapped, ate super healthy and did 4+ times a week workouts, our results would be doubled. I recently started taking the FatFighter supplement samples Tessa sent me after I ate fatty/carb heavy meals and the Thermofit before workouts. I can tell I have a bit more energy to power through my runs and extend my workouts a bit longer with Thermofit, so that exciting! I'm curious to see how that paired with the FatFighter helps facilitate weight loss with continued use...only time will tell. I have a problem swallowing pills, so the FatFighters and Thermofit supplements I have to break in half and take. No biggie!

Greens Chews Review: I really, really liked how these bad boys tasted. They're like eating a small bite of berry Laffy Taffy...no, really! The fact that they're chock full of antioxidants and prebotic support really sold me. I'm a big fan and plan to order more soon.

Confianza Supplement Review: I'm not sure on this one. I've taken it 3 times and I really can't tell that I'm less stressed or more focused like it claims to help with. Granted, I'm super in tune to what my most common stressors are and how my body reacts to them, so I often use other techniques to de-stress and focus. That being said, I did feel less tired on the days I took Confianza. Not sure if I was well rested or if the supplement helped. Not sure I'll keep this one in my repertoire. Too many variables for me.

Greens On-the-Go Review: I'm not a huge fan of adding anything to my water. Plain water always tastes better to me. But, I honestly didn't mind the Greens taste. Tessa sent me the Berry flavor to try and it was subtle in an 8 oz. glass of water. It turns your water into a greenish-grey color and it does add a slightly thicker consistency to the water, but it's not off-putting. If you don't add it to a water bottle and drink it from a glass, you'll have to stir it from time to time or the greens will settle to the bottom of the glass. I'd recommend adding it to a water bottle or a shaker bottle so you can shake to mix it freely. As for how it made me feel...I could definitely tell I had more energy, even on the day I drank it and skipped my workout. Would I keep up with drinking Greens? I think so. I feel like if I combined with with wrapping and the FatFighters/Thermofit supplements, it could only increase my energy and results. I'm also interested to feel those detoxing effects over continued use.

FINAL REVIEW: I've already purchased a bottle of FatFighters and Thermofit as well as 3 more boxes of wraps...so I guess that means I'm sold! Well, I'm still testing, really. I feel like with extended use, I could potentially see some great results. I'll keep you all updated! And if the results are really awesome, I just might share my photos. That's not a scary thought AT ALL. [eye-rolls] We will see! Now, here's a little story from Tessa, the Wrap Queen herself!! Take it away, girl!

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First and foremost, I am SO grateful to Casey for giving me the opportunity to talk with her HUGE, amazing network of women and bloggers about the phenomenal company that is It Works Global. I became an independent distributor with IWG back in August 2013 just before my husband and I were moving from Aviano Air Base to Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. I was finishing up my Masters degree and knew that I would be interning full time with a high school in SC and wouldn't be able to contribute financially to our family as I had been doing while I was at Aviano. A few months after our move, I realized how much of a financial hit we took when we moved back stateside. I contacted one of my uplines and asked her to help me make my business explode. 

Everything from that point on is history! Since then, I've invested my spare time (sometimes 15 minutes a day, sometimes hours a day) into developing my business and now have a team of 40 distributors and countless clients! Everyone that It Works has introduced me to has been dedicated to their health and wellness as well as taking control of their own finances and every day I meet someone else who inspires me to stay on the same path! I've never met a group of more motivating and inspirational people in my life and am so honored to be a part of this community of successful men and women.


That being said, what IS It Works? You may have heard of "that crazy wrap thing." We're all over Instagram and other social media outlets and yet still the majority of the world hasn't heard about the Ultimate Body Applicator that tighten, tones, and firms your skin in just 45 minutes! Everyone from fitness models to moms with extra skin on their bellies are loving our wraps and the results they are seeing. I tried my first wrap back in the summer of 2013 and when I woke up a size smaller (my under belly was GONE), I knew I needed to be a part of this company!


In addition to that crazy wrap thing, It Works has an incredible supplement and skincare line - all of which are 100% all natural. Talk about holistic health! A few of my favorite products include the Greens, a non-GMO powder that you mix with juice or water and it has 8+ servings of fruits and vegetables. After my first month of drinking Greens, I lost 13lbs. After months of drinking Greens, my immune system has NEVER been better... I can't believe I've made it through this winter without getting even a sniffle! If people are interested in wrapping, I always suggest drinking Greens which detox your body daily and help your wrap results.


Another perk to It Works is they are ALL about Customer Service. The Loyal Customer program is specifically set up for VIP members who enjoy trying new products, want to improve their health or the way they look, and love saving money! As soon as you sign up as a Loyal Customer, you get up to 40% off all of the products and instantly get $10 in perks points (cash back you use toward a future purchase!). AND when you sign up and a friend signs up because of you, you get $35 or a free box of wraps! There are plenty more perks where that came from, but those are my most favorite.

No matter what your health or beauty goals are, It Works has you covered! I so look forward to meeting you and again, thank you to Miss Casey for introducing us!

FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

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So, you interested in trying that crazy wrap thing yet?! Don't waste another minute! If you're curious for more info about It Works products, wanting to become a distributor yourself ($500 BONUS FOR NEW DISTRIBUTORS), or you're just ready to take the plunge and wrap your way to a better you, email Tessa or contact her on any one of the social media pages listed above (make sure to tell her Casey sent ya!). Don't forget to enter for your chance to win a FREE BODY WRAP! Tessa is giving away 4 wraps, so 4 lucky people will get to see what all the fuss is about! GOOD LUCK and get wrapping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jan 23, 2015

FRESH FACE FRIDAY [& Blog Hop!]: Meet Emily Anne & Olya

Hey baby, let's go to VEGAS!! Today's the day...we're off to Sin City for 4 days filled with dancing, drinking, and maybe a scosche of gambling with my college roommate and her hubby! This whole trip came about thanks to D's birthday in early Feb and Nancy's 30th in late-Feb, so we thought no better way to celebrate two important birthdays than with some flashing lights and a little debauchery. Don't worry, Mom, we're too old to go too crazy (I envision a lot of whining and a fair amount of eye-rolling at the thought of staying out past midnight), but we're excited about letting our hair down just a bit. Especially after the stressful holiday season we just endured. Speaking of that, Tuck had his follow up vet appointment on Monday and the vet cleared him of strict crate rest! YAY! He's spent the week getting reacclimated to his walks around the neighborhood, chasing after his mini soccer ball, and frolicking around the back yard like the happiest pup in the world. If he could smile, he'd be smiling constantly these days. We're so thankful he's made a swift recovery, but we're still aware he's basically a ticking time bomb and could have another episode if we're not diligent with keeping him off furniture and away from stairs. So far, he's only escaped up the stairs once, but we were able to carry him back down before he had the chance to do it himself. That weenie will be the death of us, but we love him to pieces! If I have to die from the stress of keeping Tuck healthy, well, then I guess it'll be worth it. ;)

While I'm enjoying the spoils of Las Vegas, I hope you'll hang out with my fabulous co-hosts for Fresh Face Friday! I'm always so thrilled every time I get an email that a new blogger has linked up...even more stoked when I see connections being made in comments and on Twitter! Bloggers love community, so don't miss your chance to make new blog friends! Cheers to a safe and sassy weekend!

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Meet Emily Anne, a small town girl with a passion to travel the world one memory at a time! Over on her blog, EAT All Over the World, Emily Anne shares stories from her new life in Australia, gobs of lovely travel recaps, insights on what it's like to be an expat abroad. How did she end up in Australia? You can read that story here! Take some time and get to know Emily Anne and add her adventure to your reading list!

Emily Anne's Favorite Posts:
Pickin' & Grinnin'

My Favorite Posts:
Shrimp on the Barbie
Sydney Opera House
American Slang Meets Australian Slang


BLOG | FACEBOOK | BLOGLOVIN' | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

Miss Olya, of the fun-loving travel & lifestyle blog, The Siberian American, is no stranger to Fresh Face Friday. She's a FFF vet! Olya started her blog to share recap her amazing travels, to share thoughts from her everyday lifeand to give readers tips and tricks on making travel a part of their own lives. And if you're in the need of a second set of eyes and writing skills, she also offers editing services! Welcome Olya to blog land today and spend some time getting to know this sweet traveling girl!

Olya's Favorite Posts:
My Top 5 European Travel Moments
3 Cities to Visit in France Besides Paris
Fall Foliage Cruise: Bar Harbor, Maine

My Favorite Posts:
24 Hours in Stresa, Italy
Best Shows in Las Vegas
Three Ways to Combat Post-Vacation Blues

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Welcome to the
FRESH FACE FRIDAY BLOG HOP!
No prompt, just fun!

Hosted by: Casey @ We Took the Road Less Traveled

Rules for hopping:
1| Follow your host & co-hosts (first 3 links), pretty please! 
2| Link up your blog's homepage or Bloglovin' page.
3| Hop around, meet new bloggers, and leave them love!
4| Have fun? Spread the word and share this blog hop with your friends!
5| Want to be a co-host? Click here for more info! 

Grab a button and share the blog hop love!
We Took the Road Less Traveled
Tweet about this blog hop!

Jan 16, 2015

Coffee Talk v.11


  • Tuck is doing great these days, praise the Lord! Still on crate rest (mostly--we let him out into his doggy playpen to stretch/massage his muscles and get some snuggle time on the floor with us), but we go back to the vet for his follow up appointment on Monday. Fingers crossed the vet either takes him off of strict crate rest or tells us we only have one more week instead of two. Tuck wants to go on walks so badly. Poor baby is getting restless now that he's pain free!
  • I made this recipe last week and D and I are still mooning over it. Perfect for a chilly day (not that we get many of them here in FL, but whatevs). I already want to make it again this week. Who needs Olive Garden when you've got this delish copycat?
  • The Bachelor is back!!! And oh my goodness, it's already shaping up to be a crazy season. Chris is kissing errrrbody...all the girls are certifiable (especially onion/zombie girl...scary)...and I'm almost positive the girl who claims she's a virgin, isn't really a virgin. Rub my belly ring? REALLY? She's gonna regret that one.
  • Whenever I'm feeling down, I like to go bum around the internet and read funny auto correct fails. The parent ones are my favorite. This compilation KILLS ME DEAD. So funny.
  • Albums/songs I can't get enough of right now: Ryn Weaver "OctaHate"//Ed Sheeran "Thinking Out Loud"//Taylor Swift album 1989 (duh)//Vance Joy "Riptide"// Ella Henderson "Ghost"// the entire new One Direction album FOUR--shut up, no judging...someone tell me when they grew up because my mind is slightly blown.  
  • We're heading to VEGAS in 1 week! EEK! We've been dying to experience "Sin City" for as long as either of us can remember and now it's finally happening! It's no Europe, but hey, we're stoked. We've gotten so many recommendations for things to do and see that I'm a little overwhelmed (because I want to DO IT ALL), but as long as I can eat some good food, see a show, drinks some drinks, and snap a million photos, I'll be good. After such a stressful Christmas, this mini-vacay is much needed. Big thank you to my parents for coming all the way down to Florida to take care of the hot dog while we're away! They're the best.
  • Team Cote is getting back into the workout thing again. New year, new you, right? Ugh. Bite me. I hate the gym. But the fact that I can still go lay on the beach in the middle of January here kind of makes me feel like I better get back in shape. Plus, working out honestly does make me feel better, no matter how much I try to resist it.
  • Speaking of working out and getting fit, D and I have been trying the ItWorks! wraps and supplements thanks to a dear friend who is a rep for them. Having a degree in nutrition, I've been all kinds of skeptical about the whole shebang...but after trying a few products, we're kind of excited about them. I have a review coming to the blog next week, so if you've ever wondered about that crazy wrap thing, stay tuned!
  • Have you "LIKED" the Road Less Traveled Facebook page yet? Once I hit 500 followers I'll be hosting a little travel-inspired giveaway...so, tell all your friends!
  • Piggy backing off the last bullet...in case anyone was wondering, my new travel agent biz is doing well so far! Now that we're back in FL, I've been able to really focus on things, get organized, and work with lots of new clients. I'm still learning and my days are so busy, much busier than they've been in a long while, but it's fulfilling. And SO FUN. Keeps me in a constant state of wanderlust, but man, life could be worse! Got ideas for a big vacation? Email me at casey@destinationstoexplore.com and we can make it happen!
What's new in your world this week?

Jan 14, 2015

Salzburg, Austria: Part 2


I just spent the morning going through all the photos I have from our Salzburg weekend (all 802 of them!) and I love way too many of them just to share two posts. Old Town is gorgeous and full of such incredible history, but the mountainous landscape surrounding the city is simply breathtaking. The Austrian Alps are truly an item that should be on everyone's bucket list. If you can ski the Alps, that's the ideal way to go, but experiencing the views of such an iconic city juxtaposed against snow capped mountains is a great compromise. I went photo crazy our morning at Salzburg Castle. It was so hard not to! The clouds and fog from the early morning were still lingering along the base of the mountain range when we got to the castle's vista. As the day progressed, the fog dissipated and we got totally different Alpine views. It was unbelievable (I'll share more in my next post). Until then...here are a few more photos of the Old Town leading up to our funicular ride.


 I have to admit, aside from watching the mountain scenery change with the day, one of the coolest things we did while in Salzburg was ride the funicular from Old Town up to Fortress Hohensalzburg (Salzburg Castle). We are big fans of "getting high" and seeing cities from the highest vantage point we can easily get to. I always recommend taking this approach when visiting a new city. Such a great way to get your bearings and be wowed at the same time! You can take the funicular round-trip for 8 euro, or you can combine your ride with a castle tour (what we did) for 11.30 euro. Such a perfect way to spend half a day in Salzburg!


More from Salzburg Castle to come...
Miss any of my Salzburg recaps? Catch up here!
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