Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving! As I said earlier, in the past 5 years I've been home in America for Thanksgiving once-that was back in 2011 when we drove to Arkansas to visit my brother while he lived there. Last year Fionn and I spent Thanksgiving in Strasbourg and Luxembourg. Fionn tried escargot for the first time-it was quite the Thanksgiving dinner! 

As you read this Fionn and I are en route to our 2013 Thanksgiving destination-Iceland! I am SUPER excited about this trip and can't wait to come back with stories and pictures.

I really want to see the Northern Lights!

Since it's Thanksgiving I wanted to take a moment and be thankful. This has been such an awesome year for me and a big part of it has been how much fun I have had with this blog. All the wonderful people I've met, the sweet comments, and all the people who've inspired and encouraged me-this has all meant so much to me. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my little blog and make a connection. You're all awesome and I'm so glad to have met you!


I'm thankful for my family-both the one I was born into and the one I married into. They have loved me so much this past year and it's amazing.

I'm thankful for my dear Fionn, who encourages me, loves me, and challenges me to get on his level of adventure seeking and awesomeness. I never would have traveled to 20 countries in two years if it wasn't for him, I never would have started building this blog, and I could never have as much fun with anyone else.

I'm thankful for this expat season of my life. It hasn't always been easy, but it has taught me and molded me so much. I'm thankful for all our travel opportunities, for the chance to meet people from all over the world, and I'm super thankful that I got to see and experience the world before I was even halfway into my twenties. I know this chapter of my life is starting to come to a close, but I've enjoyed all of it.

Nobody does Christmas like the Germans!

And finally, I'm thankful that CHRISTMAS IN GERMANY IS FINALLY HERE!! I hope y'all are ready for the onslaught of Christmas market updates. Gluhwein, come to mama.

I hope all of you American expats have a fabulous Thanksgiving! I'll be back in a few days with Iceland updates and some travel-y goodness. Can't wait :)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bringing Thanksgiving to Erasmus

In 2009 I was living in France. Unlike my 2010 German study abroad, there were hardly any Americans in my French university. I knew them, but I barely saw them. So when my first Thanksgiving away from home came around, I decided I'd introduce it to my European friends.

Cooking in a French dorm was way harder than cooking in a German dorm since our kitchen consisted of a sink and two hot plates-that was it. But, since I was 20 and adventurous, I took on the challenge. Foolish maybe? Naive? But it all turned out fine!

With a dictionary and some luck (and a random girl offering me the use of her toaster oven) I managed to make some of my Thanksgiving staples. My friends were all very helpful-chopping, cooking, and offering helpful insights like "are you really putting marshmallows on a vegetable?"

Welcome to American cooking, friends. ;)

Since there were no tables or chairs in the French dorm kitchen (who knows why? Very unFrench) we piled into a friend's room and ate together. It was cramped, but still really fun.

When my friends filled their plates, one of them looked at it quizzically and said, "Everything is touching...are we supposed to swirl it all together?"

Psssh, what, and miss out on the very essence of Turkey Day?? C'mon!

Afterward dinner we took turns saying what we were thankful for (aww) and then our German and Spanish friends took turns playing the guitar and singing songs. It was awesome.

Not bad for my first Thanksgiving away from home! :)

Did you ever have a moment where good friends felt like family?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Thanksgiving of 7 Turkies

This week I'm looking back on some of my expat Thanksgivings over the last few years. Thanksgiving 2010 was one of my all time FAVORITES!

We called our kitchen the "US Embassy" because it was always full of Americans!

In 2010 I was in Germany for my second study abroad. There was a big group of Americans at the university, and as Thanksgiving approached, we all started getting a little homesick at the thought of missing out on all the fun back home. Somehow we decided we would throw our own Thanksgiving, and all the American students were on the board with the plan.

The only problem? There were around 50 American students, along with 30+ international and German students we wanted to invite. And we lived in a dorm. But at least it had ovens?

Undeterred, we spent two whole days hitting up every single grocery store in our town, buying every sweet potato, cranberry, frozen turkey, and gravy mix packet we could find. Since there were 7 working ovens in our dorm building, we decided we'd make 7 turkeys. 

Ambitious, I know!

On Thanksgiving day, we started early. We staked out our kitchens to make sure our turkies could roast in peace. Then we started slowly taking all the tables and chairs out of the other floors' kitchen to make one long table in the middle of the hallway. And we started peeling, chopping, sauteing, and stirring all of our Thanksgiving staples!

One of my friends had her parents visiting during Thanksgiving, and we all joked that it was nice to have a stand in "mom and dad" to help us out with everything. Even though it was a lot of work, we were all smiling and laughing through the whole thing.

That is-twenty minutes before we were supposed to meet everyone and the door of one of the ovens fell off completely...

This is when it helps to have quick thinking handy men! Three of our guys friends managed to get the door back on the oven, the turkey cooked, and was time to feast!

People finally started arriving, their own plates and utensils in hand!

My friend's dad led us in singing 'Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow", cut the turkey, and Thanksgiving was served!

We all crammed into the hallway to eat our meal, laughing, talking, and sharing. It was perfect. Someone joked this was the most "American" Thanksgiving they'd ever had, which led someone else to break into the national anthem-and suddenly all these people were singing the Star Spangled Banner, followed by lots of applause and cheering. It was pretty cool.

After dinner we helped to clean up, divvy up leftovers, and eat dessert and have a few drinks. Fun was had, hilarious videos of me and a friend attempting to explain the Thanksgiving story were filmed, and it went down as one of the most memorable Thanksgiving I've ever had. 

What an awesome group of people. :)

If there's one thing I learned from all this, it's that you shouldn't sweat Thanksgiving. If you can cook 7 turkeys in a run down student dorm and still have an awesome time, it shows you got your priorities straight, right? ;)

Have you ever had a crazy Thanksgiving like this one?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving when you're far from home

In the past 5 years, I've been home for Thanksgiving once. Every other Thanksgiving has been spent in Europe. Even though it makes me sad to miss spending time with my family and doing all the usual traditions, I have been so blessed through all these years to have incredible friends who became my surrogate family. This year was no exception!

This month has been crazy, since my husband and most of my friends' husbands have been working long, erratic hours and have been gone for days at a time. There's been a lot of girl time, dinners together, and wine and crafting nights to take our minds off empty houses and silent cell phones. Since all of us are far from home, we decided to do a potluck Thanksgiving!

by far the cutest attendee

Unfortunately, schedules changed and most of the husbands couldn't attend (Fionn included), but we still had a great time together and invited the hubbies who were home, along with some single soldiers! 

Luckily for the guys, we made a LOT of food! :)

It was such a good night-everyone got to enjoy their favorite Thanksgiving goodies, we had a great time playing with my friend's adorable baby, and we got to choose between 4 different desserts! It was an awesome night of food, fellowship, and friendship. As much as I miss my family around this time of year, I loved getting to celebrate with my "Bavaria family".

That is one thing I LOVE about living abroad. The friends you make are so amazing. These girls have been there for me in so many situations and I am so thankful to have met them. Especially since most of us don't have kids of our own (or are very new to the whole parenthood thing) it's cool that we can get together as a "family" during holidays like this. 

Have you ever celebrated Thanksgiving with friends when you were far from family?

In honor of Thanksgiving, this week I'm looking back on some of my favorite Turkey day memories from my years abroad and reflecting on what I'm thankful for. Hope you enjoy my little trip down memory lane! :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Munich Blogger Meetup

Last week I was very happy to be invited to the Munich Blogger Meetup hosted by Lauren of Kiwi + Peach and Emma of A Bavarian Sojourn. It was a super fun night of tasty pizza, really fun conversation and all things Bavarian blogging! :)

Lauren was very kind and shared some of her homemade granola. She's hoping to turn it into a business soon! I will definitely buy some-I was fighting Fionn for it the next day for breakfast! :)

It was so much fun meeting other bloggers. They were all such nice, friendly people, and I loved getting to meet the people behind my favorite blogs. 

Unfortunately I don't have the links of the other bloggers who attended (pizza and fun conversation kept me from remembering) but I'll try to update that soon.

Have you ever been to a blogger meet up?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ait Benhaddou revisited

It's cold and dreary, so I need some sunny memories to cheer me up. You in?

One of the most incredible places I ever visited was Ait Benhaddou on our roadtrip to the Sahara when we were in Morocco. The sight of this desert city with snow capped mountains in the background was something else.

We were also amazed by the tiny trickle of water that made a green patch in the desert.

Fionn and I climbed into this extremely rickety tower...not something I'd do again...

Ah, Morocco. :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Throwback Travel: Los Angeles

I love the South. I love my beautiful home state of Georgia. Before Fionn, the farthest West I'd ever been was Wisconsin and Louisiana, and in my mind, that was far enough. What was so great about that far off West Coast anyhow? Who needs the Pacific when you've got the Atlantic, right?

That all changed when I met Fionn, who grew up in California. Suddenly, the West Coast intrigued me. I wanted to see this place where the love of my life grew up. Was it really sunny all the time? Was everyone beautiful? So, where exactly IS Hollywood, anyway?

Yeah, seriously. I didn't know where Hollywood actually was.

When we went to Los Angeles to get married, I was in luck because Fionn and his parents really gave me a crash course in all things LA. I'm not ashamed to admit I was a total tourist ;)

Hollywood sign? Done!

Chinese Theater in the real Hollywood...check!

Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive? Yep!

oh yeah, and one more thing to cross off the list... ;)

Ah, sweet love. Happy Monday, y'all :)