i am all out of pesto and toast… which means the end is near.

seriously.  i leave in 2 days.  and i have just enough of my favorite meal (more on that later) to get me through it.  it is like it was all perfectly planned (which… it kinda was, because i am me).  america, you ready to get me back?

Sunset byt he pond near our house

Sunset by the pond near our house

as i imagine everyone does, the end of this era (can i call it an era if it’s only been 3 months?) causes me to reflect.  what did i love about the trip?  what did i learn?  what food will i miss?  it’s hard to fathom what life will be like when i return because so much has changed.

my hair for one.  go three months of no product or heat on your hair.  it will grow like a weed and have no split ends.  crazy.

my job for another.  here’s to trying to support myself!

my dog.  i am pretty sure that she is going to be so made we took her from her boyfriend and always available play toy.  she probably won’t look at me for a week.  lame.

the weather.  i will be going from under 40 mountain and countryside to over 70 beach.  this is one change i am pretty stoked about.

One of the snow days outside our home

One of the snow days outside our home

anywho.. enough with the changes- i don’t like change much and thinking about it makes me want to eat the box of chocolates in the cupboard and i am pretty sure my dentist is already going to be upset with me and my sugar intake.

Famous Apple Strudel with vanilla bean ice cream and whipped cream

Famous Apple Strudel with vanilla bean ice cream and whipped cream

now for the learning, because i like learning.  i was reminded of how much i enjoy traveling.  i really don’t enjoy the history and scenic stuff my own town has to offer and when i am back in the usa, you better believe i am going to do a better job at being a tourist in my own town!  i also learned the Spotify is awesome (better than Pandora).  that you can make dinner with a stove that only has 2 eyes and a steak knife for chopping (although, it is not recommended).  i don’t need as many clothes as i have; i just survived 3 months with 2 pairs of jeans, 4 sweaters, and 2 sets of earrings.  makes getting ready incredibly faster.  the things i learned about my husband are too many to count, but my favorite is that he doesn’t mix his food on his plate (i am a total mixer.  it’s like thanksgiving every day).  i learned that i am a social butterfly but thankfully wouldn’t die if most of my social contact disappeared (again, not requested or recommended).  also realized that God has something good in store for me.  a new challenge.  and lastly, i learned that you can make the nasty rye and sunflower seed bread delicious by toasting it on both sides, smearing it with some pesto and topping it with a sunny side up egg. so i did that… every day.

From our daily walks

From our daily walks

i have loved my time here, even when i didn’t like it.  i loved the snow, even when my bones were cold and i couldn’t feel the snot running out my nose. i loved the countryside, even though it didn’t leave much for entertainment (hello!  remember how excited i was to see the horse?).  i loved the food but i am not going to eat pork again for a while.  i will miss the riesling, mossy trees, walks to and from work, yummy chocolate, cheap groceries, old people on bikes, clomping of the man with his horse and carriage every afternoon, and the cheese house.  man.  i will miss the cheese house.

The Allgau Cheese House | It's famous in our region.

The Allgau Cheese House | It’s famous in our region.

also, just to give you a heads up, now that the literal journey is over, you can follow me over here, on my other blog.  that will be my new focus for verbal explosions.  so follow along there to get more of this.Germany-33.

a cough, the cold, the causeway and champ

even though the calendar says i leave germany in a lil over a week, it failed to hit me until our “big shabang” trip.  that’s when i realized the shenanigans were almost over and i would be returning to my beloved beach town soon.  this was bittersweet as i still had my cough from last week, am really enjoying my time in germany, but did indeed want to return to america for the pup and comforts of home.

Ireland1

and let me tell you.  the big shabang was that indeed.  thanks to some great connections by my very friendly sissy and her best friend, i had become cyber pals with delightful irish gal.  when the question arose for what our big out of country trip should be, the willingness of kate to host us in the beautiful northern irish coast made the decision easy.  belfast, ireland…here we come.

Northern Ireland Coast

Northern Ireland Coast

the long weekend was nothing short of jam packed.  i’m talking food, fun, and sweets!

friday: arrive in the afternoon, dinner with kate’s parents (her dad is like the best cook ever), drinks at a pub

saturday: breakfast at a local street market, tour of downtown belfast, walking trip to the giant’s causeway, snack stop at “the nook”, drive up the coast, dinner at remore (amazing desserts)

Giant's Causeway... uber impressive

Giant’s Causeway… uber impressive

sunday: happy easter!  breakfast with the fam and cadbury eggs, church, bbq, afternoon at home with the parents and watching mary berry, pit stop at a local lighthouse, dinner and sticky toffee pudding at the dirty duck, drive to dublin

monday: catch flight in dublin and head home!

the causeway was incredible.  praise God for the sunshine and lack of rain during the weekend.  oh, and let’s praise him for the food too.  my favs:

-malteesers (they are these squares made of chocolate, biscuit cookies, malt balls, and white chocolate.  yum.)

-lemon berry cheesecake

-kate’s dad’s beef bourgeon

-champ (mashed potatoes with scallions)

-percy pigs berry gummies (they are sissy’s fav)

-kate’s dad’s blueberry pancakes

-carrot cake! (i have been sad to miss it over easter, and then i got some..score!)

-kate’s mom’s pavlova.  delish.

-seafood chowder

Walking to the causeway

Walking to the causeway

for more images of our trip, check out my facebook page.

taking a sick day

it’s snowing and the birds are taking refuge in the tree outside my window.  my throat is sore and i can’t stop coughing.  not to mention, the hubs has it too.  so, we’re taking a day off.

this means i will be bundling up to tea, Chuck, Modern Family, and the nastiest homeopathic sore throat medicine ever.  i’m not kidding.  it tastes like bad dirt.

on a happier note, here are some shots from our hike this weekend.  perhaps hiking in the snowy alps for 3 hours in 28 degree weather wasn’t our best idea for health, but it did give us a hearty appetite for a great lunch (pork cordon blue with fries and pork with mushrooms and cheese spaetzle) and apparently, a cold.

Songbird Photography by Stephanie Herrell

Songbird Photography by Stephanie Herrell

Hiking-7

Songbird Photography by Stephanie Herrell

Hiking-10

Songbird Photography by Stephanie Herrell

Hiking-2013-03-23 05.58.44

Songbird Photography by Stephanie Herrell

a post for those who haven’t seen spring yet

maybe you felt it, maybe you didn’t, but i have been avoiding you.  well, not necessarily avoiding you, but i didn’t have much to say this past week, and i was working on my other blog (you should follow it too.  lots of pretty pictures), and i feel like you may have gotten the short stick.

so, i’m sorry.

now, let’s move on.  it’s time for your weekly pin.

PickaPin

i wanted to share something that i actually have done.  being stuck inside for most of my days, i’ve picked up working out in the home, as opposed to my earlier gym rat, run outside, walk the dog routine.  you can find all the things i have tried and plan to try here.  i try to add comments (mostly these are fyis for myself) about what i liked or didn’t like, and if a routine sucks, i cut it off the board.

so go ahead.  take a gander at what is keeping me active in the cold.

don’t like to work out?  well here is a pin for you too:)
soup

i made it for dinner the other night.  the only difference is that i used these italian sausage (or some mystery meat that tastes similar) ravioli in the soup, instead of the meat and noodles.  i really liked it, but the hubs isn’t one who eats “tomato sauce foods” and thought it was a bit too “marinara like”.  whatevs.  it was tasty.  i’m eating it again today.

so if spring hasn’t sprung in your neck of the woods, you can keep yourself skinny by working out indoors, or keep yourself full by eating the sausage soup.  don’t worry, we don’t judge.

have a good weekend!

do they have gatekeepers here?

i didn’t know what to think.  it looked like a castle, but it was really a town.  it was a cross between bewilderment (do places like this really still exist?) and insignificance.  when you are standing next to a giant walled city, you feel pretty small and young.  these towns have survived much more than i have, which is inspiring, amazing, and captivating.

Rothenburg, Germany

this past weekend, we went to two beautiful cities in germany: rothenburg ob der tauber and nurnberg.  they were awesome; full of history and charm.  it was a shutterbug’s dream.

Rothenburg, Germany

some highlights:

the food.  in rothenburg, they make these pastry balls (see below).  it’s essentially dough that has been balled up together, cooked, and then dipped in a “sweet” flavoring (like chocolate, vanilla, lemon).  i say “sweet” because german treats aren’t really sweet at all.  nurnburg is known for their sausages and gingerbread.  both cities provided a tasty array of traditional german food, so we were all set.

Rothenburg, Germany

Treats and Sweets at a local dessert shop

Rothenburg, Germany

Meat. You can’t get away from it in this country.

the towns themselves.  both are known to house pretty great street markets.  rothenburg is famous for its christmas market (which we obviously missed) and nurnberg had amazing street vendors; there was everything from kitchen gear, food, jewelry, polish pottery, and fabrics.

Nurnberg, Germany

the walking.  i love walking and through these old towns was nothing short of dreamy.  the days passed quickly and every turn led us to a new nook or cranny.  it was so fun navigating through all the lil alleys.


Rothenburg, Germany

the shopping.  first of all, you should know i am a terrible shopper.  my favorite kind of shopping is going to the grocery store.  unfortunately, my “fun” shopping behaviors are similar to that of an errand.  for example, i wanted to get a fun, antique ring from germany as a birthday gift.  that was the only thing on my shopping list.  every store we entered, i maneuvered in a strategic, organized way (normally a 360 loop from front to back), only to find they didn’t have “the ring”.  as a result, i ended up getting a splurge item, which i was super excited for (i got my first piece of polish pottery)!  thanks to the hubs for convincing me it was ok, even though it wasn’t on “the list”.  in conclusion, even though i am a bad shopper, i think good shoppers would still love this place, especially if they could tough it out during the christmas cold.  the shopping was well rounded and a general crowd pleaser.  i’m talking variety: food, drinks, jewelry, antiques, new stuff/designer stuff, trinkets, christmas things, etc, so, in theory, we are all set.

Rothenburg, Germany

if i haven’t already convinced, let’s just put it out there: if you go to germany, visit these places!  especially if you are missing america.  while they don’t really resemble much of what we are used to, you can speak english there!! (hey- from a lil town girl who doesn’t know much german, that was a blessing from the heaven above!)  and…nurnberg has 2 starbucks.  i’m telling you, winner winner chicken dinner.

 

imaginary hot cocoa and sugar cookies

PickaPin

i thought spring had sprung.  we had sunshine or a few days.  i was starting to run outside again.  i even could forego my thick, warm winter coat for a long sleeve and hoodie.

and then the snow came again.  i knew it was happening.  one day, the sky changed.  the clouds evolved.  the rain started to fall and then by the morning, there was a fresh blanket of the beautiful, chilling white stuff.

naturally, this makes me want to stay inside, drink hot chocolate, and read a book.  do to limited resources and list of to-dos, i may not get to make that a reality today, but here is what i wish i was doing.

Drinking this:

crockpot hot chocolate

Crockpot Hot Chocolate thanks to Creating Through Life

Eating this:

sugar cookies

Sugar Cookie Squares from Cooking Classy

and adding to my Inspiration pin board.  because let’s face it, there is nothing like our head being active while our body is still and eating sweets to make us more happy.

nonetheless, i will get started on hand washing the dishes, finishing the laundry, editing pictures, and planning our super fabulous weekend getaway to this fun, lil old town.

happy thursday to you!

Stephanie with Songbird Photography:

Know of an awesome teacher in South Carolina? Let him or her know you or the students in your life appreciate the impact he or she is having! Free portrait session giveaway through Songbird Photography!

Originally posted on Songbird Photography | Carolina Portrait Photographer:

Somehow, all my college roommates were in school to become teachers.  Some tried to convert me and my degree.  Some practiced their lessons on me.  Some just kept to their own until the time of student teaching rolled around, and then they freaked out on me with the stress of it all.

Songbird Photography by Stephanie Herrell is a fresh, personal, candid, and energetic portrait photographer. Offers affordable family, children, engagement, and couples photographs in the greater southeast (Charleston, Summerville, Moncks Corner, Charlotte, Myrtle Beach, Spartanburg, Raleigh, Cary, Wilmington, Ashville, Greenville, Atlanta, Savannah).

No matter what though, they all had one thing in common. A passion for the “Aha!” moment. A love for the process of creative explanations.  Some lacked the art of discipline and some failed to appreciate “older” teaching methods.  No matter what though, I could see why they were getting into this profession.  They loved teaching the art of learning.  They loved helping a struggler and then watching him or her have a lightbulb moment.

It wasn’t until after graduation that I saw past the fun songs, learning activities, and holiday themed lessons.  Instead, I noticed the…

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show me what you got, pioneer woman

PickaPin

so this week’s pick a pin credit goes totally to my sissy.  she has told me many times how good this recipe is… she swears by it.  and if there is anything my sissy knows, it’s how to make your hair not frizzy, make a baby happy, and cook a good dinner.

so here’s to you, sissy.  i raise my glass in preparation for date night in’s dinner tonight: pioneer woman’s pork chops with apples and creamy bacon cheese grits.

now.. a few things to note because i will be adapting the recipe for a few reasons…

1. i don’t think germany has ever heard of grits…..as a result, i am using cauliflower.

2. we still have a brick of black forest ham, so i’m chopping that up instead of the bacon.

3. i may not make it to the cheese shop before it closes, so the creamy cheesy factor may not be there either.

4. i can’t find maple syrup.

5. i don’t have time to make chicken stock and don’t have cayenne..i do have another orange-colored spice and a lot of the white wine that i am going to wing it with.

but otherwise…i’m expecting it to be exactly the same level of delicious.

what are you doing for date night?  maybe you should try the real recipe?  we can make a ven diagram later to compare and contrast.

a door to the future

i have a confession for you.  i have fallen in love with a new dream and passion (besides the hubs, photography, and baking).  well, i suppose this is not so much a new dream as much as it is a re-manifestation of an old dream.

I could live in a castle....

I could live in a castle….

i want to buy a house….like right now.  for some reason this overwhelming sense of urgency has hit me this past week.  i think it is because i found a house that we can actually afford (HELLO!), like, and is in a suitable area.  i just keep praying, “please, Lord, save it for me when i return!”  i’m not kidding.. i probably pray that a couple times a day :)

Songbird Photography by Stephanie Herrell

Songbird Photography by Stephanie Herrell

here’s the second fold of that confession… it is SO HARD to live in another country and house shop!  all this house lust is manifesting into an obsession with german housing too and time-consuming blog stalking of folks who are self renovating their less than perfect homes.  as a result, i am now full of creative inspiration and capturing shots of all the fun doors of the local homes.

Songbird Photography by Stephanie Herrell

Songbird Photography by Stephanie Herrell

so what am i doing to cope?  finding the beauty (which isn’t hard) in the lil (actually they are huge- most 3 stories) dutch homes around me.  now, i not only have an obsession with checking to make sure my future home (hopefully) hasn’t sold and DIY blogs, but also with doors.  it’s official, i must have a really cool door to honor our time here.   my poor husband.

Songbird Photography by Stephanie Herrell

Songbird Photography by Stephanie Herrell

so here’s to long distance house hunting… and local manifestation.   for more shots of the doors, check out the Facebook page.  if you have any tips, tricks, or suggestions for blogs i need to check out, leave them below.

village people and animal house

sunday was a good day for me. sometimes, i feel like brendan fraser in Blast from the Past (usually when i have been stuck in the basement apartment and the sun hasn’t been shining and i haven’t left for a few days… that gives me the nuclear fallout shelter feeling). but sunday was more like a North by Northwest day as i navigated a new town and made a friend along the way.

German countryside

German countryside

i live in a dream land. it’s as easy as that. i look out my window and see the alps. brendan didn’t have that, poor guy.

View from our backyard: Bavarian Alps | Songbird Photography

View from our backyard: Bavarian Alps | Songbird Photography

there is something magical about this place. it’s a land where people ride their horses into town to buy bread…nothing is super-sized or maximized… a place where beer and wine are the same cost of a small bottle of water… a dreamland where you always have a panoramic view of the mountains and feel like your 2 steps away from heaven. it’s a crazy little place where people run to work, even when it is 5 degrees outside and snowing. it offers something fabulous in its 2:30 coffee and cake break time.  its emphasis on efficiency is epitomized with the stop lights: they go from red to yellow right before they turn green so all the drivers with stick can be ready to go. this place. this lil village place (where i seriously saw a guy taking his horses and carriage for a spin around the town chapel)…. it has easily become something of beauty to me.

this guy is also a sight for sore eyes. i named him nutella (because he reminds me of peanut butter, which they don’t sell here). i pet his nose, told him he was lovely, and when i stopped, he turned around and farted on me. true love, right?

A horse is a horse, of course | Songbird Photography by Stephanie Herrell

A horse is a horse, of course | Songbird Photography

so anyway, my saturday was basically filled with the grocery store at the mall and chocolate.  we ate a lot of chocolate saturday night.  in fact…it was our late afternoon snack, dinner, and 4th meal.  we were such americans; we left the grocery with oreos, cokes, chocolates, and an empty stomach.  now, we are sad and crying because we are going through withdrawals.  my sunday on the other hand was filled with coffee, cheese, house church, and livestock.  i know what you city folk might be thinking, “is she crazy?  i would die out there!  how boring.”  and i’ll be honest, i miss going out so badly that i have mini dance parties by myself in the middle of the afternoon, but this place is more like being on a vacation than being exiled.  plus, how can you say no to this?

Cutey-Patooties | Songbird Photography

Cutey-Patooties | Songbird Photography

now, i think i’ll help myself to another cup of tea and a personal conversation to try and get myself motivated to go running…i don’t want to jinx it, but i think spring may have sprung here!  we are going on our 3rd sunny day!