Today’s Ramblings #18

Ramblings Intro

As much as working from home is brilliant, no rules to live by, sitting on the comfort of your own sofa for lunch and bobbing down to the pool to catch some rays as often as you’d like it’s also very counterproductive. There are distractions everywhere, from giving people back home a quick call (that obviously turns into nearly an hour) to watching some trash tv I recorded the night before and generally just staring out of the window. So, in an effort to get something done with my day and get away from the distractions of the sofa, the pool, the tv and anything else I can make an excuse from at home, I’ve taken my laptop on a little trip and I’m writing this from a Panera Bread store. I feel like I’ve joined the American masses, everyone seems to do it over here, the only problem is finding a plug socket near to a table for lack of power fails. I’m feeling pretty American right now, I’m not going to lie! Although I have an aging laptop and not a flashy MacBook like most of the other people around here. I’ll keep you updated on whether it does make me more productive or not. If it does the German might not be so happy…it will cost him more money in food and coffee if places like Starbucks become my office!

Remember the scary guy from HomeGoods in my last rambling post? Well, I bobbed into the store again the other day to try to find some bits and bobs for the hutch and they’ve outdone themselves again! Check out what I spotted this time…

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Yep, a good old British telephone box! It made me feel a little at home but seriously, who would want this in their home and once again where would they put it? I’m a Brit and I wouldn’t want it, even if I had the biggest house on the block. It costs a mere $1999 if you were wondering and fancy purchasing one for your home! I think I’ll pass this time…

Now, I know American’s like to be prepared, but after my recent trip to Hobby Lobby I didn’t think they wanted to be THAT prepared. So, here’s what happened, I walked into the store and spotted the 4th of July decorations, very acceptable seen as though that’s next week (and I have that dreaded 10k to run that I still haven’t done any training for, the run I was planning this morning was successfully avoided thanks to Ma Cook giving me a call!) then, I was slightly shocked when I spotted these…

Ramblings 18
Thanksgiving and fall decorations. I mean, we haven’t even had summer yet. But then things got much, much worse. I walked around the corner and was confronted with this…

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Christmas decorations, rows and rows and rows of them! Not just the odd thing here and there but aisles of the stuff with everything from trees to baubles, to ribbon, to wreaths, you name it, it was there, in June, 6 months before the big day and 5 months before anyone would even think about putting their tree up. Why oh why do they need to be in the store so early? I understand that crafty people have to be organised and make things well ahead of time but they don’t make baubles and tree decorations. The world is most definitely going mad!

Well, I already feel pretty productive, maybe this working from a Panera Bread or Starbucks thing might actually work…

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Exploring: Las Vegas – Route 66

It’s Travel Tuesday again with the lovely Bonnie Rose over at A Compass Rose so today we’re heading back to Nevada and Arizona for another piece of Las Vegas:

Exploring Las Vegas
Ok, so I know this isn’t technically in Las Vegas but it happened whilst we were on our Las Vegas trip so I’m going with it!

This time I’m taking you on a trip down a legendary road – Route 66. Whilst out in Las Vegas we decided it was only right to head to the Grand Canyon – hey, how many times are you going to be just a few hours drive away from it in your lifetime? We figured we couldn’t miss this opportunity, so, along with my brother and sister-in-law, we hired a car and headed for the Canyon.

This obviously meant a trip on Route 66! Even though you can now take a new highway that would mean you arriving at the Grand Canyon earlier than if you took Route 66 we all felt like we had to experience it, it’s America’s most famous road and a once in a lifetime opportunity – it is just amazing.

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Route 66 was one of the original highways within the US highway network. When it was first constructed in 1926, it practically spanned the whole country, starting off in Chicago, Illinois and running through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica, California. It was known as the Mother Road or the Main Street of America.

Now though, new highways have been built and although Route 66 remains, parts have been designated as a National Scenic Highway with the name Historic Route 66 – it was this part of the road that we were about to travel on.

I was so excited about this, I mean, this is Route 66, this road has had a television program named after it and a song. There had to be something about it that made people love it so much and you can tell why in Arizona.

The road is just breathtaking:

Route 66 3
That right there is all you saw for miles and miles. It was just beautiful. You were in the middle of the desert, on one long road that didn’t seem to have an end. You saw hardly any cars and there wasn’t much happening around you apart from every so often you’d drive through a little town in the middle of nowhere and you’d spot the odd really long train in the distance. It was amazing.

We did stop off for some food along the way at a roadside diner my sister-in-law had read about, you simply couldn’t make it up – a couple of Germans had moved over to the States and opened a diner on Route 66, the German felt like he was at home!

Route 66 5
If you’re ever on Route 66 stop here. The food was delicious! The portion sizes were out of this world – I think even my brother and the German couldn’t finish all their plates and they’re usually quite good at that!

After our re-fuel we carried on our trip to the Grand Canyon, more on that later. I’m so glad we drove down Route 66, here are a few more photos just for you!

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And as usual there is a picture of me being an idiot…standard.

Have you ever driven on Route 66? What was your experience like?

Today’s Ramblings #17

It’s been a very long time since I last did some rambling so here goes…

Ramblings Intro
10k incoming…argh!!! Remember I told you I had that amazing idea to sign up for the Peachtree Road Race and run 10k? Well it’s fast approaching, in fact I think it’s in about 3 weeks and do you want to know how much training I’ve done? Zero. Yep, you heard that right, so far my training schedule has included nothing. Well actually I lie, I did 2 tiny runs last week and when I say tiny they didn’t pass the 20 minute mark and were nowhere near a 10k. I blame the mad month of May and the wedding, an excuse that’s getting used for a lot of things at the moment and that technically can’t be used for much longer so for this I’m gonna go with it! Back to the run…my dreams of finishing this thing with a good time are not looking good at all – last week’s attempts at a run (I say a run it was more like a shuffle) were not very good, it was hot and humid and I was done after 20 minutes. In fact the second run saw me giving up and turning it into a walk half way back to the car – I blame the fact there was nobody there to push me for that, I can easily give in if there’s nobody kicking my ass. I did take this selfie mid-run though just to prove that I did go out and attempt a run…

All the gear...no idea!

All the gear…no idea!

And just to scare me even more the participant instructions have just dropped into my inbox…argh! There’s one line about deferring your entry and giving your number back until next year…very tempting indeed.

Whilst shopping in HomeGoods the other day I spotted something I’m sure nobody would want in their house but was happily for sale in there. I’m thinking it will go straight into the sale, it was pretty scary, not exactly modern and contemporary and not the smallest object to fit in your home (American homes are all huge though so that probably wouldn’t be a problem) but seriously who would want this in their house…?

Ramblings 16
I bet you weren’t expecting that one? Yes, this big beauty is available to  purchase for a mere $800 and would look lovely in any home…not. Why the hell would you buy this? What would it bring to your home apart from a heart attack everyday when you nearly bump into it or think it’s a real person. Why? Just why? I did mention to Pa Cook that we thought it looked a little like him, we were met with the words ‘cheeky chuffs, you’re being taken out of my will.’ I think I revoked the comment after that.

And I was shopping at the Dekalb Farmers Market the other day when I found the most interesting name for a potato…

Ramblings 17
Yes you read that right, in Idaho they grow stripper potatoes! It definitely made me chuckle when I strolled past it and I just had to share it with you. Hope it put a smile on your face too!

That’s enough rambling for now, until next time!

Exploring: Las Vegas – Fremont Street

Exploring Las Vegas

If you’re heading to Vegas make sure you go off strip and take a trip to Fremont Street. This place is the second most famous street in Las Vegas, following The Strip, is where some of the first casinos were opened up and is home to some of the city’s most famous casinos including The Golden Nugget, Golden Gate Hotel and Casino, Binions Horseshoe and the Pioneer Club.

This place was definitely on my list when we decided to head to Sin City – I wanted to see the old Vegas, the spot where the neon lights were first made famous, and obviously to get the full effect you need to go in the evening, so, after a trip up the Stratosphere Tower we jumped in a cab and went to Fremont Street.

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Fremont Street holds a lot of firsts for Las Vegas – the city’s first hotel was here, the first telephone, the first paved street, the first Nevada gaming licence was issued to the Northern Club, the first traffic light, the first elevator and the first high-rise so it definitely holds a lot of history for the city. The Golden Nugget was the first building designed from the ground up to be a casino – this was where the gaming industry was at back in the day before everyone migrated to The Strip.

By 1992 80 per cent of the Las Vegas gaming community was on The Strip and Fremont Street needed something new to keep people heading to downtown Las Vegas, so it was decided that the Fremont Street Experience would be built. It turned the road into a pedestrianized area with a huge canopy over the top that houses a light show along with live music and concerts.

Fremont 1
We arrived just as a light show was starting and it’s pretty amazing. The canopy is 90 ft high and around 1,500 ft long so it’s very impressive! It can be kind of dangerous though when you’re walking and looking at the ceiling instead of in front of you – I think I had a couple of near misses with other fellow explorers!

As well as the light display above your head there’s the light display from the many casinos still open on Fremont Street, checking them out is a trip in itself. The lights are still based on the originals and have an era of old Las Vegas about them, unlike the modern signs adorning The Strip. Check out some of these pictures I took to see what I mean:

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Fremont 3

This place has a classic Vegas feel, it’s definitely worth heading up to check it out, we only had a flying visit as we were pushed for time but I’m glad we got to experience it. I would have loved to have gone to The Neon Museum too – it’s basically a graveyard for all the old neon signs that have adorned the streets of Las Vegas over the years, but sadly we just didn’t have the time. Maybe on our next trip…

Have you been to Fremont Street? What was your experience of it?

Exploring: Virginia Highlands Summerfest 2014.

Once springtime hits Atlanta there’s a festival happening just about every weekend in some place or another, whether it’s a beer festival, an arts and crafts festival, a music festival or any other theme you can imagine, you can literally visit one every weekend and they’re always guaranteed to be worth it. Remember that trip we did to the Dogwood Festival with the huge turkey leg?

This weekend, after recovering from our wedding hangovers, we ventured here:

Summerfest 1

The Virginia Highlands Summerfest 2014. Virginia Highlands is a really nice neighborhood near Midtown and Piedmont Park, it has some quirky shops, nice restaurants and cute parks to chill out in, personally I like going there anyway, never mind when there’s a festival in town!

So off we trotted, it took us a little while to find a parking space but our luck was in and we grabbed one right next to the main street where the festival was taking place – result! These festivals all seem to run along the same theme – lots of little booths with different artists and companies selling there wares along with those all important beer and food stalls – my favourite!

Yesterday was hot. So hot that even strolling down the street at a leisurely pace turned me a little sweaty! I think the fact that I had my hair down didn’t help – it’s blummin hot under that mop! Anyway, we took in the stalls, the German gravitating to the booths selling photos and prints (he’s a secret photography lover, I’m often a camera widow when we go exploring!), I was very interested in the jewellery and craft stalls, finding lots of pretty things I wanted to buy:

Summerfest 2
The booths also provided a welcome break from the hot sun! The majority of the action was on Virginia Avenue – a huge street in the center of the Highlands with live music in a couple of places along the street. These festivals are a great place to meet friends, have a few drinks, do some exploring and chill out for a couple of hours at the weekend.

Then there are the food and drink stalls. In summer, lemonade is king in America and not just any lemonade, we’re talking freshly squeezed very refreshing lemonade that they literally squeeze right in front of you with a very clever contraption that squashes the lemon in seconds! And let me tell you it is super tasty stuff! There’s also the option to add a shot of liquor like vodka but, after partying the night away at a wedding alcohol wasn’t really our friend yesterday afternoon so we opted for the plain version!

Summerfest 3
We then moved onto a snack. If you ask me you can’t come to any of these places without trying something tasty! There was everything you can think of from food trucks selling meatballs and fish and chips (Yay!) to blooming onions, falafel, thai food and of course BBQ. We also can’t forget the stall I got a little bit excited about – the Meat Pies stall! There was a Union Jack on it and everything and it sold sausage rolls! It’s been so long since I had a proper sausage roll but after spotting one coming out of the oven I changed my decision to have one, knowing that despite how much someone tries it just won’t be the same as back home and I’d probably be a little disappointed (I’m sure they were very tasty but this British palate is very particular when it comes to traditional British scran!) and instead we went for all American and got a pulled pork BBQ sandwich and it was delicious!

Summerfest 4
So there you have it – our first festival of the year. I’m sure we’ll be heading to many more before the summer is up, who wouldn’t want to rock up for some lemonade and tasty treats along with of course the cute stalls and sunshine with friends? Have you been to any festivals this year? What did you think of them?

Exploring: Maiwoche in Osnabrück

maiwoche 1
Every May for one week only, the closest city to the German’s hometown, Osnabrück is transformed into a strawberry heaven that is called Maiwoche. Literally translated, this means May Week and the place goes mad. It’s the only city in Germany that has this ‘Volksfest’ which, translated means people’s festival and it’s the largest ‘Volksfest’ in the whole of Germany – wowzers! When I asked the German what the reason was behind it was instead of giving me the answer I was expecting like ‘it’s to celebrate the start of spring’ or something similar, his answer was ‘it’s just an excuse to meet friends and drink.’ Typical German there!

Now, the German first introduced me to Maiwoche a couple of years ago, on the afternoon of our last day in Germany, just hours before we had to head to the airport to catch our plane back to the UK. This was an epic fail on his part (or maybe he planned it that way?) and I nicely asked him to take me to it the following year as I’d missed out on all the fun but instead he decided to get a promotion at work and we moved to America. Shucks.

Anyway, it would appear we planned our wedding well, the week before the big day was indeed Maiwoche! You can imagine my excitement when I figured this out – my time had come to sample the delights of this thing and tell you all about it. So here goes…we’ll start with a few pictures:

Maiwoche 2
So, Maiwoche is a little like a Christmas market but in May. It has the usual little stalls and stands but it has a spring feel. It’s only in Osnabrück for one week and in between planning a wedding and welcoming our guests I managed to visit this thing 3 times and the German 4. I think we did well, we were there within hours of stepping off the plane!

So, the aim of the game is to meet friends, chat, stroll around the stalls, listen to some live music, fill yourself full of tasty delights and this being Germany, there is obviously a few drinks involved! Instead of the warming Glühwein that’s sipped at the Christmas markets in Germany during December there’s a lovely little number called Maibowle instead – see the picture above and the huge smile I have on my face, believe me that stuff is good!

So, strawberries are the center of this tasty drink, basically you mix sparking wine with brandy and sugar, add a load of strawberries that have been soaked in the stuff for a long time and you are definitely onto a winner. I’m thinking there’s some sort of colouring in there too to make it red? At this point during the week I was in a carb-free zone to fit into THE dress so the strawberries fitted into the diet well, despite the huge amount of alcohol they came with!

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This thing does have a few other differences from your standard Christmas market, for a start there are the flying chairs that people seem to like to get on after having a few drinks…! The Maypoles, the live music, the carousel bar (it’s basically an old carousel that’s been turned into a bar, it moves and everything!) and the party tent. Yes, you read that right, a section of the city centre is turned into a tent where music and partying takes place all night, accompanied by some Maibowles, beers and of course shots. Those Germans definitely know how to sink some drinks and party but without looking completely trashed like the Brits…I’m still intrigued as to how they do that!

Back to Maiwoche! Sadly the weather wasn’t too good this year, it was a little cold (although I couldn’t decide if that was because we’d been basking in 80 degree heat in Atlanta the previous week) and it rained a few times so we had to find shelter either in the tent or under one of the beer stalls (again, shucks) so it wasn’t overly busy but there was still a good, fun atmosphere and the drinks were definitely flowing!

We also can’t forget the snacks. The German was so excited to get his fill of German goodness at Maiwoche – I think within minutes of hitting the stalls and getting a drink the man was itching to get to the Bratwurst stand for a sausage! I think he ate at least 2 or maybe 3 on every visit. So, apart from the traditional Bratwurst, Krakauer and Kasewurst (cheese sausage) there is every other treat you can imagine – Gyros, another favourite of the German, steak sandwiches, Kartoffelpuffer (deep fried potato, a little like a hash brown), deep fried fish, roasted salmon, caramalised almonds, gingerbread and every other German treat you can imagine. Being on the carb free I need to fit into a wedding dress at the weekend diet I had to choose wisely – I went for a bratwurst without the bread and some mushrooms with a garlic mayo – just amazing! Obviously I took you guys a few pictures…

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Maiwoche was definitely a big hit with me, my parents and every other Brit we managed to take there during the week we were in Germany! It’s obviously huge with the locals too, one of our nieces who lives in Osnabrück says she went nearly every night! I don’t blame her either – I think I would too given the chance. Sadly, I don’t think we’ll be able to make it next year but I’m sure we’ll be back to Maiwoche at some point in the future! If you’re thinking of heading to that part of Germany, make sure you plan your trip to include a visit – I can assure you won’t be disappointed!

Life is Good. {May in Review}

Today marks the return to reality for myself and the German after the whirlwind month that was May. The German is back at work, I’m making friends with my desk again, I went for a run this morning (and nearly died after so long away from exercise) and weddings are well and truly behind us…sob, sob.

So, I thought I would link up with the lovely Belinda over at Found Love, Now What and give you a little review of the good (and god damn amazing!) things that happened in May, ranging from the little things that make us happy to huge, life changing events, I think you can guess what that one was!

May Review 1
Catching some last-minute sun by the pool for that all important wedding tan.

Some Braves baseball action. Baseball is now my favourite American sport.

Dinner with friends (including the famous queso!) before we left for our wedding.

Having all our friends and family descend on a little sleepy town in Germany.

Eating German stodge (or trying to avoid it for the wedding dress) with the German and his friends.

One word: Maiwoche!

May Review (2)
May’s life changing event full of love and laughter: getting married again!

Still the only picture we have so far...

Still the only picture we have so far…

The new addition to the Richter household: a much longed for hutch! Believe me, I have Pinterested the hell out of hutch pictures!

Fun with friends at Brew at the Zoo.

May Review 3

A cheese board on the beautiful wedding present Pa Cook (or Mr. Mike as we now like to call him) made us for the big day.

A mini-moon in Destin, the place we secretly said ‘I do’ a year ago!

May Review 4
And ending with my first ever American bachelorette party for this beautiful lady at Montaluce Winery in Dahlonega. So excited to see her marry her lovely man Carson this weekend!

May Review 5I think we can safely say May was an amazing month in the Richter household. We were surrounded by love from all angles, and, for the first time in a very long time, we were able to have all the people we love the most in one room to celebrate our love. Jeez, there is a whole lot of love in there! I wouldn’t change it for the world!