Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Skewers

Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Skewers Recipe

This is so easy to make.  Can you tell I'm all about easy recipes?  It's also a  great healthy appetizer for a pic nic or barbecue.  I had these as an appetizers for my wedding, so they can be fancy too.  You really can't wrong.

Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil Skewers Recipe:

cherry tomatoes
mozzarella balls
fresh basil leaves
olive oil
salt and pepper

1)  I don't like to measure for recipes, so I put equal parts olive oil and balsamic in a container with pinches of salt and pepper and soak the mozzarella balls for 1 hour.  Or you can soak them overnight like I did for more flavor.

2) How many skewers it will make depends on how many you want.  Just double your mozzarella balls because you will be cutting the cherry tomatoes in half.  For the amount you see above I used about 40 mozzarella balls and 20 cherry tomatoes.

3)  Pic a pattern and skew the mozzarella balls, half tomatoes, and basil leaves.

You are finished!  For a daintier look you can use tooth pics.  Everyone said the mozzarella balls looked like mushrooms, but I told them it was mozzarella!  They taste great!

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Top 10 Packing Tips for the International Roamer

Thinking about my upcoming trip here in June where I will be travleling from Germany to Venice to port for my Mediterranean Cruise.  Which also happens to be my honeymoon.  After a year of waiting, the stars have aligned and Brandon and I are able to take this time off, but just barely.  This trip was almost a no go, as my husband was almost not able to get off of work after we had booked an almost $2000 trip.  And yes, we got this great deal doing a cruise through Costa. 

With a trip of this grand scale, the usual excitement ensues, also with a bit of a panic.  The panic being, "What do I pack?"  I had already bought an assortment of new Victoria's Secret bathings suits, cute cover ups, and other beachy items, but the trip to port and then the traveling in between warrants a good packing list.  So this brings me to my contribution of what my top 10 MUST HAVES are for any trip around Europe or Stateside for that matter.

Article by Brittany Ruth of The Rococo Roamer

Top 10 Packing Tips for the International Roamer

10) Credit Card, Debit Card, Currency, and ID

I'll start with the most obvious.  If you aren't a hobo or a vagabond, you will need to bring $$$.  I always bring my debit card to take money out of the ATM.  If you are traveling internationally this is most times, the best way to get a good exchange rate.  Some places offering "Exhange" try to rip you off.  Also, I don't want to take out too much cash and be at risk of being targeted by pick pockets or the inevitable (in my case) loss of the money. 

Taking out a small bit of cash in the currency of the country is wise when Credit/Debit Cards are not accepted.  Use the local currency for small items.  Plus, it can be a cool souvenir if the currency is different than the Dollar or Euro. 

Credit Cards, I only suggest you bring for emergency purposes.  In case of loss of everything or if you need to book a flight or some other tragedy.

ID and passport is an obivous one.  But make sure your passport is locked up in your hotel safe.  Losing it would be one of the worst things that can happen.

With that said, try to find free things to do or you may come home broke or worse, broke half way through the trip, and yes, this has happened to me.


9) Identifying Info

Pack a piece of paper with a contact number in case something happens to you and put it in your pocket or wallet.  I always forget to do this, but if something happens, people can get in touch with someone important instead of trying to break into your phone to try to find "mom" or "husband" in your contacts .

As a side note, always tell someone where you are, but NOT ON FACEBOOK.  If your profile is public, or even if it's not, thieves read FB to learn when people will be out of their houses so they can steal.  Remember the internet isn't private.

8) Camera

Often I don't want to bring my camera during the day because I don't want to be burdened by lugging it around.  I end up taking makeshift iPhone pictures which are great for catching a quick moment, but not so great when you are trying to review your trip later.  Find a camera that suits you, but isn't too big.  This isn't a photo shoot after all.  Or is it?

For traveling, I currently use a Nikon 1 J1 (in red), because it's small enough not to be aburden, but better than a point and shoot.  Sure, it's not the most advanced camera out there, but you have to weigh your options and remember to enjoy your trip and not worry so much about getting perfect pictures, unless you are a professional.

7) iPhone with Apps

Bring an iPhone (or other smart phone) that is capable of using Apps.  Other than being used for the obvious calling options.  When I am in Germany, it is very helpful when I have the Google Translate App instead of carrying around a book.  I also use a Currency App to let me know exactly what I am spending.  I use the Around Me App to find restaurants and bars around the area to check out.  This one is great because it will calcuate your current location and tell you where the closest restaurant is and in most cases reviews.  How helpful!  I also use Google Maps.  I seriously sometimes use it as a walking guide.

Now I know that if you are overseas, you might not want to pay for a plan or worse, roaming, but these all can be used if you do have wifi access or even internet in your hotel!  If having wifi isn't an option, then I still use certain apps to plan my trip.  If you type the name of the country you will be visiting in your App Store, it will give you a country specific app to help you plan your trip.  I've recently used, IAmsterdam and Triposo.

 Planning my trips, I use the Kayak App to get the best deals on flights and hotels.  It compares 5 different sites for the  best deals.  You can also set it to send you alerts when a trip that you have saved goes down on the flight or hotel.  This is really helpful because a price can literally change in the matter of a few hours and then go away.

6) Chargers

Seems obvious, but it sucks when you are ready to take a great picture and you forgot to charge your camera or worse, forgot your memory card, and these have both happened to me.  You feel like a dummy too.   But you'll go back to Thailand one day right?  See my point.  Same thing with the phone.

5)  Small Purse

If you carry a purse, it might be tempting to bring that really great and super huge hobo bag that is in style right now.  Not so much.  Don't be so naive to think you are above  being pick pocketed because you are in a "nice neighborhood."  Pick pockets won't be focused on a small purse that is strapped to your side.  Anything that seems too risky will put them off.  They will be focused on a big brand name purse that is sure to be filled with some goodies and easy to put their sticky little fingers in while you're waiting in line for a bus.  Plus a huge purse can be put down during lunch and forgotten.  Yikes.

4) Wisps

This might seem random, but it's actually number 4 for a reason.  This is one of my favorite tips.  You are weary from travel, have been sleeping on and off for hours, and you wake up with godzilla breath.  There isn't the time or a place to brush your teeth and Wisps are a perfect fix so you aren't clearing  a room.  I love how clean my mouth feels after using these after a long flight.  They are small and come in handy.

3) Hoodie

Hoodie, sweatshirt, whatever you call it.  No matter if it's the middle of Summer, I find myself wishing I had a hoodie while traveling.  It can combat a messy hairdo, hide your face while sleeping on the train, and keep you warm during a cold flight.  Plus, they are comfy to sleep in.  Simple as that.

2) Backpack

For shorter trips, no more than 3-4 days, or someone who is generally a light packer, bring a backpack.  I don't want to lug a big suitcase through the tiny streets of Amsterdam or Venice.  To make room for all of my clothes, I roll them up.  It really adds space.  Having a backpack isn't just for high schoolers anymore when you are a serious Roamer.  And it rings true to backpacking through Europe.  They use them for  a reason. 

As an adult, there are so many cool looking back packs to choose from like my leather and orange funky material backpack up top.  Another thing I have started to do is to buy a pin from every country I visit and pin it to my backpack.  It's a great way to remember trips and also a cheap souvenir.  That huge painting of Prague you bought will just be sitting in your closet anyways.  Pack light and be free.


1) Pack an Open Mind

Okay this isn't a tangible thing, but it's the most important.  90% of the trip is exploring things you didn't plan.  I'm a planner when it comes to trips and I like to book tickets in advance and have an itinerary.  But the most fun times are the spontaneous ones.  Sometimes it will rain.  Like the whole trip.  But you will just have to improvise and realize that being a serious Roamer isn't for the travel control freak.  Go with the flow, learn a few key words of the language, talk to strangers, get lost, try foods that scare you, and most importantly stop to smell the flowers.  Seriously.

As I look back on all my trips so far, these have definitely been key in having a successful trip and I am always adding more as I go along.  Have these tips been helpful?  Do you have tips of your own?  Please let us know!

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Co-Hosting "Chain Linky Climb"

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Featured Artist: Stone Lace Creations

A good friend of mine has recently started her own business.  She sews customizable clutches for any occasion, handmade infinity scarves using new and upcycled fabrics, and creates inspiring DIY projects that she features on her Facebook page!

Destiny is the creative soul behind her newest venture Stone Lace Creations and she is also one of my good friends.  This girl has a talent for creating and is one of the nicest people you will ever meet!  She has been selling at markets, fests, and craft fairs in the upstate New York area to get the word out about her products. 

She is pioneering the Summer scarf. It is a way to get the layered look even in Summer!  Aren't they lovely?

Below you can view some of the clutches she makes!

Stone Lace Creations will be at the Pulaski Family Fun Days in Pulaski, New York on Saturday, May 18, from 10-3.  But if you aren't in the upstate New York area you can go to her Facebook page to check out more of her beautiful items or place an order.  Any inquiries are welcome!  Support small business.

Like Stone Lace Creations on Facebook for updates and tell her, her pal Brittany Ruth sent you.

All Photos by Stone Lace Creations

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Nurnberg Flea Market and Homemade Spargel Soup

Last weekend I went to the Nurnburg Trempelmarkt which is a huge flea market around the old town of Nurnberg, Germany.  I was very excited as they only hold this huge flea market twice a year and it is the biggest one in Germany!  There are about 4,000 vendors and over 200,000 visitors.

You can find anything from old mirrors to vintage clothes.  But mostly I saw porcelain, pottery, and other tableware.  With all that was available, I actually controlled myself and only bought three items and some farmers market food.  I had a lot of fun looking and saved my money.

I did find a few items that struck my eye.  A set of four table napkins, gardening gloves, and a tiny tea cup and saucer.

The garden gloves were new and only one Euro. I needed a new pair since I had lost my last pair and I loved the pink floral design (though it looks red in the picture).

Here is a close up of the design on the table napkins.  They are linen and from Germany.  Estimated around the 50's.  They just need to be thrown in the wash and they are ready for a dinner party!

This tea cup caught my eye!  It is purple and I am loving all shades of purple right now!

After hours of strolling around through the market, it began to rain so my husband, friends, and I headed towards the farmers market portion where there were tent coverings.  I spotted some fresh spargel, which is in season right now.  I had previously tried spargel soup (white asparagus soup) and thought it was delicious.  So, I decided that I should try to make it myself.  I never knew that asparagus came in white or that it could come in so big of a size.  To be honest, I'm not even sure if they sell it in the States?

I also bought some strawberries which are also in season and some farmers market cheese!  I did not use the strawberries in this recipe.

I had high hopes for the quality of the spargel and straberries as I ended up paying 15 Euro for both.

Here is how I prepared the yummy German spargel soup:

Spargel Soup Recipe:

2 lbs of fresh large white asparagus
1/2 cup of half and half
1/2 cup of chopped onions
2 Tbs of light butter or margerine
6 cups of low sodium chicken or veggie broth
A few splashes of white wine (dry or sweet)
Dashes of salt and pepper
sour cream (optional topping)
cheese of your choice (optional topping)
dried cilantro leaves or parsley (optional topping)

Makes about 6 servings

1) Before you start cooking, you want to peel the asparagus, chop into two inch pieces, and cut the heads off to use for later.

2) In a large saucepan, sautee your chopped onions and butter and then add your chopped asparagus minus heads.  Cook for 5 minutes with lid.

3) Add broth and boil for 30 minutes or until asparagus is soft. 

4) Carefully add hot mixture to a blender or food processor and blend.  Make sure you put a towel over the blender so the hot boiling soup doesn't explode out the sides and onto your hands.

5) Return to saucepan and add the asparagus heads.  Simmer for 5 minutes or until the heads are soft. 

6) Add your splashes of wine and salt and pepper to taste.

7) Turn off your burner and add your cream.

You are done.  Let the soup simmer and enjoy! I like to add a spoonful of light sour cream and grate some cheese over it.  This time I used the cheese I bought at the farmers market.  Also garnish with dried cilantro leaves or parsley if you desire.

I am not an expert at photographing food, but I assure you it was yummy! 

For those who try this recipe, I hope you like it and let me know how yours turned out.

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Garden Furniture and Spread

Spring is here although it's been more rain than sun here in Bavaria.  I needed a nice little place to sit and enjoy the weather, when it happens to be nice.

I decided it was time to get some patio furniture.  Now let me preface this by saying, we probably have the smallest backyard area ever, so I wanted to get something that wouldn't take up too much room, but still retain my style.  There is this cute little garden ware store nearby that I am obsessed with.  It has the neatest stuff like patio furniture, outdoor decorations, and indoor decor as well.  I was surprised to find that it was located in my little town.  Most of the decor is wrought iron (technically mild steel).  

  I decided to buy a dainty garden patio set with two chairs and a table.  And  I aways say that I will go back for some more stuff.  Of course I had to spruce up the view with a spread of yummy snacks.

I love wine and cheese!  They just go so great together.  I bought some German wine and cheese at a bazaar.  I also bought this beautiful tray there as well.

I made some cucumber crostinis which are super easy to make and pretty healthy.  They are very light and refreshing.  

Cucumber Crostini Recipe:

8 ounce block of light cream cheese
1/2 cup light mayo
1 wheat baguette
1 packet of dry Italian seasoning
1 cucumber
dried cilantro leaves (optional)

Makes about 12 slices

Mix together cream cheese, mayo, and Italian seasoning and spread on sliced baguettes.  Cut cucumbers to top.  I didn't for this picture, but I usually sprinkle some dried cilantro leaves over the cucumbers, it gives it some more flavor and looks nice as well.

Close up of the cheese I bought at the bazaar.  I'm always on the look out for new kinds to try.  I bought the cheese slicer from my trip to Amsterdam last November.   The tulips remind me that I have to see Amsterdam in the Spring at some point.

I used my vintage enamelware milk jug that I bought during my trip to Poland as a vessel for the beautiful roses.  I love the combo of pale blue and pink and the little wooden detail.  

I wanted to show a close up of the yummy Riesling.  It was the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.  Also some detail of my pic nic basket that I picked up on one of my previous hunts.

The coffee/tea set I bought a while ago at a thrift store.  They are from China and I have an entire set of cups, saucers, and a milk and sugar bowl.  And no, I'm not drinking wine out of that, though it would be a sneaky way to conceal it.

I love the look of wrought iron garden furniture!

The store I bought my garden furniture at is called Wohnambiente-Philberth.  I did snap a few pics of the inside of the store with my iPhone.

*I did not get paid to endorse this store, though that would be awesome.

Lastly, in the spirit of Mother's Day, I wanted to end with a pic of my mother and I at my wedding last August.  She really is the best mom!  

Photo by Thomas Beaman Photography

Happy Mother's Day everyone!

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Polish Pottery Trip to Boleslawiec, Poland

Before moving to Germany, I hadn't really heard about Polish pottery.  Once I came to Germany, I heard plenty.  People, and by people, I mean ladies, are obsessed with this stuff!  I know back in the States that shops that do carry the Polish pottery charge a very hefty price.  And it can be somewhat justified.  Poland is known for its pottery. It is well-made, hand-made, and there are so many designs to choose from. 

Most people find their pattern and fall in love with it.  Others have fun mixing and matching.  Personally, I was not initially interested in Polish pottery.  I thought, what can I do with these old fashion looking items?  But soon you get hooked. 

I took a day trip to Boleslawiec, Poland and spent the day at several different pottery shops that were located in the same general area.  In Poland, there isn't really a middle man jacking up all the prices, so the pottery is significantly cheaper.  And you are going directly to the source, so you have a pick at essentially any design your heart desires. 

I want to show you some of the pieces that I bought for myself.  The first is a coffee cup and plate.  This design, in my opinion is not typical of the pottery designs they have.  It has a forrest theme with a little cottage and tree that I thought was adorable.  How cozy.

I figured, I am most likely not going on another one of these trips (just for pottery at least) so I might as well make a splurge.  I saw this beautiful spice rack with yellow roses and burnt sienna accents.  This wasn't quite a splurge though as the price might have been doubled in the States.  I paid around 40 Euro for it.  It's not vintage, but looks modern day vintage.

The last item that I picked up for myself was at a nearby antique shop in Poland. Of course I had to stop in and check it out.  I ended up buying a light blue enamelware milk jug in pretty decent condition.  I have no idea of the year in which this piece was made.  I would guess maybe the 50's, but please let me know if you have any insight.  I think I am a new enamelware/graniteware fan!

In this antique store there were also some other very "interesting" historical items displayed in the back. 

I did end up buying a lot more Polish pottery than shown, but I will have to wait quite a while to show them because they are gifts!  But I will post them eventually.

Currency in Poland is by the Zloty, so I basically had to take the price in Zloty and divide by 4 for Euros or divide by 3 for the Dollar about and this would give you an estimate of what you were paying.

The next couple of images are of what I could snap with my iPhone.  Piles and piles of pottery and different designs over the span of about 6 different shops.



Bowls, mugs, cups, dog bowls, spoon rests, tea pots, salt and pepper shakers, cooking dishes, take your pick!

Butterdishes, saucers, and bobbles.

They had something for everyone and it was a bit overwhelming to choose between so many options. 

 Beautiful Polish pottery stepping stools.

In Ceramika Henry's Pottery store they had an upstairs.  The place was huge!  One room contained baking dishes for casseroles and such and the  other room was filled with various types of baskets.

The trip was long.  Only 4 hours from where I live, but it was a 6 hour bus ride.  I got everything that I wanted to get for gifts and got to experience what the hype is about. 

For lunch, we did get to experience some Polish food.  I was expecting the Polish comfort foods that my family makes on various family get togethers like pierogies, halusky, and pigeons (which I recently found out was the English way of saying Golabski).  But no, none of these items were on the menu, though my dish was very yummy.

I suspect this is because we were mere kilometers from the German border, so they integrate German foods with Polish foods.  I normally don't eat pork, but since living in Germany, it's practically impossible not to.  The Germans eat more pork than beef by far.  I had pork sirloin stuffed with feta cheese and a gravy sauce, green beans wrapped in bacon and the most amazing rosemary potatoes. 

Though these meals are typical of meals served at lunch in Germany and Poland, I will never get used to eating this amount of food, for lunch or any meal.  But in small doses, this food is amazing.  The waiter jokingly kept asking me why I didn't finish my food.

I do wish that we had time to go view some of Poland outside of pottery, but there just wasn't enough time.  I would love to see some of the sights and learn more about Poland especially since it's not too from where I live.  For now, I will have to say, next time!

Are there any Polish pottery junkies out there?

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