Archive | April, 2017

Erin’s New Venture

21 Apr

Hello and Happy Friday! I don’t know about you guys, but this girl is ready for the weekend! Seriously- between my mom heading home, two straight days of (super wet and messy) snow, and a zillion things to get done mixed in there, a laid back, lowkey couple of days with just my man and my little sound just about perfect. Other than a date night tonight (Neve’s gymnastics program is having a Kids Night Out), we’ve got nothing on the books and I can’t wait.

So you may have realized that yesterday’s post was a bit different than most in that it talked about our visit to a Bucket List castle that we’ve been waiting for ages to see, but didn’t have many pictures and none of the story (y’all know I’m all about the story!) Well, that was by design. There actually ARE lots of pictures and there IS alot of story to share, but they’re over on my new little corner of the Internet: Treats, Travels & Truths. That’s right, I’ve finally made the decision to take my blogging to the next level- to really make use of our current situation living overseas, of our years of travel, of our current adventures, of my passion for food and cooking and baking, of my personal trainer certification, of my Southern roots, and most importantly, my unwavering penchant for keeping things real.

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Now, I realize that some of your are like me and you follow various blogs, so you know how it works. I follow lots of different kinds of blogs- some for healthy recipes, some for baking, some for travel, some for fitness and workouts, some for fashion, some for self-care, and even a few for things like writing and photography. It’s where I get ideas about what to cook for dinner, where to stay when we travel, how to get a certain effect in a picture, etc. But I also realize that some of you aren’t as familiar with the blogging world, so I’ll do a quick 101 just so we’re on the same page. (And honestly, I’m still very much in the learning phase myself, so if any of my fellow blog friends are interested in sharing your tips and secrets, PLEASE! Ha!) Blogs are not only wonderful ways to connect with likeminded folks, but they’re excellent research tools. There’s a blog (or a thousand of ’em) for everything! For example, if you ever look something up on Google, say ‘pimiento cheese recipe,’ most of the results that will pop up are, indeed, blogs. Or ‘what to do in NYC’ or ‘lower body workouts.’ Yep, alot of what you’ll see are blogs, much like this one, just on a larger scale. They are just regular folks who have taken their passions and put them to work, just like I’m doing now.

Blogs earn money various ways- through ads, through sponsorships, through guest posts…The growth of a blog is directly related to its number of followers- the more followers it gets, both through blog subscribers and on social media (like Instagram and Facebook), the more attractive the site becomes to potential advertisers and sponsors. Ultimately, the largest, most successful bloggers can end up with huge corporate partnerships, publishing deals, etc.

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But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! Yes, y’all know that I’m a dreamer and that I’m an entrepreneur at heart so all of those things sound wonderful to me and are definitely on my radar for longterm goals, but for right now? I’m just excited that two years’ worth of ideas swirling around in this head are finally coming to fruition. And to finally be focussing my passions into something, and in a way, that I genuinely think is needed in the blogging world.  My goal is talk about my two biggest passions- travel and food (and a tiny bit of fitness thrown in here and there)- in a way that most ‘regular’ people can relate to. Some travels will be all out Bucket List adventure while others will be a budget overnight trip. Some food will be healthy and quick and perfect for weeknight dinners while some will be all out gluttonous. There’ll be talk about how good it feels to workout every single day, but then days (or weeks) when you just plain don’t feel like it. The goal here is to let people know that it’s not only OK to think both ways, to act both ways, to enjoy both ways. And that it’s normal. We’re ALL in the same boat of trying to find that balance in our lives. I’m creating a zone of no judgement, no stigmas, no harping on one thing or another. I’m calling things like I see them and inviting visitors to do the same!

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And just to answer a couple questions that you may have…This new venture was officially born about 3 months ago after years of just thinking about it. I spent the first month getting my thoughts- and business plan- in order, coming up with my business name, networking with folks, researching, etc. Eight weeks ago, I teamed up with a graphic designer to design my logo and to build my new website, then I got to work on the content itself (because who wants to launch a website with no posts?!). And here I am! The site went live just a few days ago and I absolutely couldn’t wait to share it with all of you!

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I haven’t exactly decided yet what I’m going to do with this space. For the next little bit, I’ll be posting here like usual and linking things over to Treats, Travels & Truths. Once things get rolling, I’ll likely keep this space to continue sharing our personal (non-public-blog) pictures, but make it private (subscribers only perhaps?). This site has been such a blessing to me for the last 8 years- can y’all believe we’ve been doing this that long already?! It started as a way to keep in touch with our family and friends during our first stint in Germany, then during my pregnancy and subsequent world travels. It’s been a way for us to share our adventures, to connect with loved ones far away, to make new friends…Heck, it’s even stood in as a therapist here and there! Ha! And along the way, we’ve grown to more than 800 followers (!), which makes me so excited to take it all to the next level!

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I think that’s about it! I’m in the process of figuring out *if* there’s a way for me to transfer all of my current subscribers here at Thomas Wanderings over to TT&T as that would make things the simplest for all of you. I *think* it’s possible, but I’m not sure. That being said, it’s SUPER easy for you to subscribe to the new site if you’d like to just go ahead and do it yourself. Just go to www.TreatsTravelsandTruths.com and on the homepage, you’ll see a teal ‘Join Me’ button right there in the header at the top of the page. Click it and enter your info. Then it’ll be just like it’s always been right here- when there’s a new post, you’ll get an email. Easy peasy! You’ll also see a few social media buttons, so if you’re on Instagram (treats_travels_and_truths), Facebook or LinkedIn (Erin Thomas), please follow along! And please, please, please help me spread the word! Feel free to share the site with any and everybody on your email blasts! 😉 Thank you all SO MUCH for all your support over the years, and for continuing to stick by me with this new venture. Means more than you know.

Oh, and back to yesterday’s post. Head on over to check out all the medieval awesomeness that’s Burg Eltz– I wouldn’t label it as our new favorite for nothing! Ha!

Happy Easter, Y’all!

20 Apr

OK, a few days after the fact, but I hope all of you had a lovely Easter! We sure did! For starters, my mom was in town- she surprised me a few weeks ago with a last minute decision to come for a quick visit that just so happened to include my birthday and Easter. Both weekends were terrific. For Easter, we finally made it Burg Eltz, John’s bucket list castle that Rick Steves had named as ‘Best in the World’ (we attempted to see it last fall, but it ended up closing for the season the week before our trip :/). It was well worth the wait and has most definitely become one of our favorites, too! Birthday Weekend was terrific, too- the first night we celebrated with a Grown-Ups-Only night out with our tribe (woohoo for 2 babysitters + 5 littles!), then spent Sunday doing what we love the most- cooking, baking, and just being together. Meant so much getting to share it with Mom.

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We made pizzas from scratch- the crust, the sauce, the toppings…DELISH!

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This is my absolute FAVORITE cake on the planet and I get it once a year, when my sweet husband- and now sweet daughter- make it for me on my birthday. It’s a take on the classic Tres Leches, but with fresh homemade whipped cream and Oreos. HOLY COW.

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Birthday Flowers (with a Boston Terrier photo bomb!)

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Driving to Burg Eltz

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Burg Eltz

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Driving to Burg Eltz

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Waterfront in Koblenz, Germany, where we stayed to visit Burg Eltz…

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Deutsches Ecke- the merging of the Mosel and Rhein Rivers in Koblenz, Germany…

Mom and I also did a little daytrip over to Burg Lichtenstein, which is another of our favorites. It’s small and quaint, yet so charming and regal the way it’s built right on top of a giant rock overlooking the foothills all around. How is it possible that this is Mom’s first castle?!

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Other than that, we’ve just been doing a whole bunch of normal. And it’s been awesome. It’s crazy how much of a boost the regular, day to day stuff gets just from having your mom around. We dyed Easter eggs, we met up with friends at the biergarten when the weather was pretty, we celebrated the Easter Bunny’s delivery (via a clever scavenger hunt set up while we were gone to Burg Eltz!)…Oh, and BIG NEWS! Neve learned to ride her bike all by herself, no training wheels! BURSTING. That’s the only way I can describe the love and the pride her Daddy and I- and Goddess, and Poppy from afar!- felt. ❤

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Stuttgart Postcard Heart on a random fence…

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Trying to get a picture and I keep saying, ‘Turn around, no the other way, no the other way…’

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The beautiful face of a big girl bike rider!!

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When you take your American- little-bit-European- new bike riding girl for ‘whatever she wants’ and she chooses strawberry ice cream and an espresso with extra milk ❤

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When you get to be there to open the care package you sent before you knew you were coming! Ha!

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Do you ever stand at your grill flipping burgers and get the feeling you’re being watched?

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Taped to the door when we got home from the castle on Easter Sunday…

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We really did have the loveliest of times with Goddess here visiting and saying goodbye to her earlier this week was difficult all around. But at least our hearts are full and our souls are happy. ❤ Funny thing is that Mother Nature must’ve known we were prepared for a crummy few days because she brought back the snow! In April! This is the third time it’s snowed on the day Mom is leaving. Maybe it’s a sign…Ha! As pretty as it was and as unexpected, I’m pleased to report that it seems to have passed again and the forecast is showing slow improvement throughout the weekend. This Southern family is ready for WARM!!!

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And that’s it for now! Lots of fun over these last couple weeks and even more to come as John’s brother, sister-in-law, niece and sister arrive on Wednesday for their annual visit- and this time, we’re headed to Greece! A first for all of us!

But in the meantime, remember that big news I teased you with a couple weeks ago? Well, the time has arrived to share it- finally! Stop back by tomorrow for the big reveal 🙂

Spring in Stuttgart

4 Apr

Hello again! I go from MIA for nearly a month to twice in a matter of days! Sheesh. I’m sorry about that. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’ve got something big in the pipeline- a project that’s been taking up a good bit of my time and that I’m really excited to share with all of you in the very near future. *And before some of you start jumping to (crazy) conclusions, nope, I’m definitely not pregnant, nor adding any living creature to the family 😉 But in all seriousness, it is a venture that I’m pretty damn pumped about and that I’m feeling so, so good about. I promise to share more in the coming weeks!

That being said, let’s consider this a photo dump post because we haven’t had one in a really long time! March was a really busy month around here- you already saw the Retro Classics Car Show and that we had Uncle Andy here to join us for the Bunkerhotel– but we also spent a heckuva lotta time welcoming spring, hanging out with friends, welcoming biergarten season back (hallelujah!), exploring new (to us) haunts in our city, etc.

So in completely random order, I present to you the, ‘Thomas Family Month in Pictures…’ (*warning: it’s alot, like alot alot. 😉 )

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New pants, vintage boots ❤

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The 70s called- they want their look back. Never.

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You know a carwash is the bomb.com when you have to take a picture.

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Thumbs up for new house shoes at school!

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One pup took the other pup’s treat. Can you guess which is which? Ha!

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Afterschool Tea Parties ❤

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When you’re still in a funk from yesterday, but you have to walk the city…1. Ear buds in so no one will talk to you – > No explaining that you don’t speak German. 2. Sunglasses on so no eye contact. 3. Ball cap on to erase any doubt that you’re American. Ha!

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(German) Breakfast of Champions

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Tulip Trees are my favorites ❤ (And Redbuds…)

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Sunrise from my side of the bed…

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Nothing better than homemade frozen yogurt pops after school!

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Slumber Parties ❤

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When you don’t know if it’s because you just got out of school for the day, or if it’s that it’s finally feeling like spring, or if it’s that the sun is out for the fourth (!) day in a row…You’re just…THANKFUL.

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Saturday morning farmers market ❤

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When you see one of these in your mailbox, it’s a great day. When you see 5…It’s like freakin’ Christmas! Bring on the packages!

Sunday afternoon at the Stuttgart Planetarium. Neve’s first such experience- she LOVED it.

Another Sunday afternoon at the local biergarten with friends…

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Pretty impressed with myself for creating this Stuttgart skyline…

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Beauty and the Beast in 3D ❤

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She loved this outfit she picked all by herself ❤

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Stuttgart Opera House

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New Palace

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Whew! I warned you it was alot! Ha! Thanks for sticking it out with me. I promise I’m going to try to do better this month. For now, I’m going to try to contain my excitement as my mom gets here in 36 hours!! Total last minute surprise trip just in time for my birthday this weekend (and Easter the following) and I simply can’t think of a better gift than having her here. In many ways, it’s been a very challenging season for my whole family (will elaborate on that in due time…), so having her here for just a couple weeks is a really good thing for me…and for her. Can. Not. Wait. ❤

Stuttgart Bunkerhotel

3 Apr

Greetings, y’all! And happy April! My goodness, March just got away from me I suppose as it’s been over three weeks so I posted! As always, that’s a good sign- just means that things have been hoppin’ and there’s been little time for my therapy, ie. writing on here to you guys 😉

Wanted to share with y’all something we’ve been waiting to do since we heard about when we first arrived and finally got around to doing last weekend. Once a year, every March, Stuttgart holds its ‘Long Night of the Museums,’ where ALL the city’s museums (more than 110 of ’em!) stay open until 2a. Visitors buy one ticket for regular price (about 18 euro) and can then get into any and all museums they choose. Quite a steal!

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Waiting in line isn’t near as bad with friends ❤

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The line is no joke! Entrance is over by the white and red ‘pyramids’ and we’re opposite…

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Nearing the entrance, looking back at the line where we started on the far side of the square…

Well, we’ve had our eye on one museum in particular- the old Bunkerhotel. This one is special in so many ways, but mainly because it’s open ONLY on this one night of the year- if you miss it, you’re out of luck until next year! Here, let me start by showing you a picture of the farmer’s market at Marktplatz that we happened to be walking through earlier that day…

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If you look closely at this shot and the one right above, you’ll see that I’m standing in nearly the same spot. Well, once the market clears out in the evenings, you’re left with Marktplatz, one of the biggest public squares in Stuttgart. The neatest part? Underneath the ground, running the entire length of the square, is an old WWII bunker. And not just a plain ‘ol bunker, but one that was then converted into a hotel for over 20 years! Here’s a look at yesteryear…

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The bunker was completed in June 1941 for 1010 persons, but sheltered up to 3000 people during the WWII air raids. As more and more peoples’ homes were destroyed, the number of bunker tenants rose. In 1945, a local Germany hotel company purchased the bunker with the purpose of converting it into a hotel, with 80 single and 10 double rooms. One night cost about $5. In addition to the sleeping facilities, there was also a restaurant and a conference room, which were equipped to host groups of 180 people. The visit of public figures led to national importance of the resort and it quickly became one of the “leading bunker hotels in Germany.”

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Heading down into the bunker…

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The Bunkerhotel operated from 1945-1985, using ventilation shafts instead of windows. By the late 1980s, new regulations meant that the hotel no longer met safety codes and that it would cost too much money to make that not the case, so it closed and sat empty until 1995 when someone had the idea to include it in the ‘Long Night of the Museums.’ Today, the hotel sits beneath the Marktplatz just as it did all those years ago- retro peeling wallpaper, antique rusting fixtures and all. Yes, it’s decaying and it’s moldy (you have to sign a waiver before you can enter!), but it’s just beautiful…

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Exploring a guest room…

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Original guest room…

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Bunker Door

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Heading back up…You go inside at one end of the square, out at the other…

We really thought it was a neat, neat experience- just feeling those bits and pieces of history, picturing it at three times its capacity during the terrifying air raids, imagining it in its splendor as a swanky, modern hotel…Definitely never done anything like it before. And it was even better that we got to share it with friends- our besties, the Horans, met us there, and then Uncle Andy and his colleague, Kevin, happened to be working in Rome for the few weeks prior and came up to spend a long weekend with us, so it really was win-win all around. And as if the bunker wasn’t happening enough, we finished the night at one of our favorite cafes for cake, coffee and maybe a little absinthe 😉

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So yeah, really good night all around. Our people are just…awesome. And once again, the Universe somehow knows how to provide just what we need, right when we need it. ❤

More March pics to come in the next day to two!

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