Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Soda Stream giveaway!!

This contest is CLOSED! Thanks!!

Remember the AMAZING SodaStream machine that I tried and loved? It helped me hit my water intake during my November Goal challenge and was sorely missed while I was away for 11 days! Well, they are offering to give one lucky reader a chance to win one for themselves!!

Just leave ONE comment below telling me why you would like a SodaStream machine and you are entered to win this:

A Fountain Jet Soda Lover's Start-Up Kit (approx. $100 retail value) which includes:
  • the winner's choice of black/silver, white or red/silver Fountain Jet
  • CO2 to make over 100 liters of soda
  • 2 reusable carbonating bottles
  • a sample pack of flavors
  • and 3 full-sized flavors of the winner's choice!

This contest is open to those in the continentail US only. The Winner will be selected by Comment number using an amazing random generating number machine and the giveaway is open until Monday, December 7th at 7pm Central time!!

Good Luck and Drink up!

Home (just in time) for the holidays!

I have officially been home one week and just finished unpacking my bag. I guess that means I am not going anywhere else, at least in the next month. But, It's official, I LOVE traveling and love Europe!

Warning: Lengthy and picture heavy post to follow! It is my trip recap!

The Trip was fantastic!! I had such a wonderful time and met some great people! Spending time with my Brother ROCKED cuz he's super cool, special and fun to be around. He gets really excited about things and LOVES to sight-see, show people a good time--he is like a walking Rough Guide!

Tim's town is great! Tubingen and the Neckar river!

The Bavarian Alps behind us!

The first few days we spent time in his home town and a few small towns around that. We walked, ate, drank GOOD coffee and saw the Stuttgart ballet perform, it was beautiful! I had never been to a ballet before and this was a perfect one to whet my appetite! We went to my good friend Jen's hometown of Esslingen which was easily one of my favorite places!

Me at the city walls of Esslingen

Then after only being there for 2 days we took off on a rail trip down through the Black Forrest where we tooled around a town called Freiburg and enjoyed an open air market where I tried roasted chestnuts for the first time! We took a cable car up to an over look of the city and had Black Forrest chocolate cake. Luckily we walked everywhere and logged miles and miles a day (I wish I knew how many!), so a piece of cake was nuthin to burn off!

From the Black Forrest (where they make cuckoo clocks I lusted after!) we took the train to Lake Constance, or The Bodensee as the German's call it, a lake at the Rhine at the northern foot of the Alps. We were in the town of Lindau and it was very cute and quaint! We took photos of us facing the Switzerland side of the lake!

The lion behind us is the symbol of Bavaria!

From here we went to Munich where we stayed in a youth hostel for 3 nights and used it as a springboard to go to a number of places! We headed south again to see Ludwig II's big fairytale castle Nueschwanstein. The thing that is SO great about the castle is that it is very medieval and theatrical looking but the foundation was laid in 1869, way past the medieval period! Ludwig was a friend and fan of Wagner and a dreamer as well, so there are countless odes to princes and fairy-tales within the design and decor of the castle. The castle itself was designed by a theatrical set designer. Before the castle was complete Ludwig was arrested, declared insane and then found dead in Munich along with the Dr. who certified him! Did he spend too much on projects like this? Was he too eccentric to be king of Bavaria?


So the castle remains unfinished. But what is- is a dream!
Here is a shot from inside out the balcony...le sigh.

After leaving the castle we opted for a bus ride through the foothills of the Bavarian Alps on our way back to Munich, instead of taking the rail. We were able to take a detour to a small town call Garmish where we saw the highest peak in Germany --the Zugspitze. Also in these little Bavarian villages we were riding through were beautiful little houses like Cuckoo Clock and painted buildings with beautiful murals on them. Here I fell in love with Bavaria!

We went to Dachau as well from Munich since it is only 20 miles or so and is a must see for everyone visiting the area. It was a heartbreaking and sobering experience. There is a museum in the main surviving building and the gate and guard towers are original. It was not a "death" camp like Auschwitz, but they were utilizing cremation to dispose of the dead from disease, starvation and "attempted" escapes. There are memorials and sculptures there as well to the victims and the original gate which reads: Work brings Freedom or literally in English "Work makes one Free." I am thankful that I know grace and mercy from God brings true freedom and nothing I do or how hard I work can do it. I would surely fail.

We were pumped to find that Salzburg Austria was also only a 2 hour train ride from Munich, so off we went to the land of The Sound of Music! I loved Salzburg!! They already had their Christmas market in full swing and it was so much fun. We went to the Mirabell Gardens where Maria & the Von Trapp kids ran and sang! Here you can see the fountain in the middle and the castle in the distance- Festung Hoensalzburg! It was a great day

We spent a lot of our evenings and one full morning tooling around Munich and I loved all the churches, but really fell for the Rathaus or city hall! It had a HUGE glockenspiel in the middle of it that went off daily at 11am! It was about a 10 min show of the figures dancing, jousting and twirling to music. It was very beautiful!

Close up!

The Rathaus is HUGE!

Despite loving Munich and all the wonderful sights, I was excited to be back to Tim's home town. I really liked the little old city's that every town had. Cobble stone streets, beautiful & colorful buildings and quaint shops. Plus there was a fruit/veggie stand on ever other corner and fresh bakeries!

Back in Tubingen, we biked out to an old monastery and toured it. We took the long way and biked up a dirt & gravel path that we swore would get us there when there was a paved bike path next to the road. We found our way back down to the road and to the monastery with a little work. At least I got cross training in! The last 2 days there, we went to 2 towns known for their Christmas Markets! Rothenburg and Nurnberg! Both were beautiful and we were there for the opening of the Rothenburg market! They had a rider on a horse come through town, they lit the Christmas tree and had music! Nurnberg was BIG, but it was so much fun. I bought a lot of little Christmas items and ornaments and tried a lot of food there!! I am proud to say that I had real fruitcake and LOVED it!

Me in Nurnberg at the Christkindlesmarkt

Being back home feels very different but after one week, I am pretty much back in the swing of things with work and my other priorities. I have a real love for travel that I always knew was there but am really dialed into now! I am going to make it a priority to travel at least once a year even if it is just a trip with in the States. I am glad to be back but am hoping to visit my brother at LEAST once more before he finishes his degree and decides to move. We made some wonderful memories and experienced some amazing things together. I am so grateful and blessed to be able to have the experiences I did.

Thanks for reading and being such great followers! I definitely missed my interaction with the blogworld, it is good to be back to this and all of you also!

Why I work out #3

Another edition of "Why I workout!" I love doing these, because they give me all sorts of reminders about my intentions and my own goals. Anytime I am in the middle of a workout or run, I can look at these and say, "I am doing this for MYSELF, I am choosing this--see I even wrote it down."

That makes no excuses pretty easy!

1) My shoes/legs never stall, get snowed in, run out of gas or get towed away.
2) All the cute Lucy clothes I get to wear!!
3) Because sweat is sexy.
4) Because when I feel utterly weak and utterly strong, I feel like ME.
5) Because I don't have legs like Barbie, more like a cabbage patch with dimpled knees, but they are mine!
6) Because who wants to set PR's in watching TV or napping!
7) To remind guys that my idea of clean & press has nothing to do with dusting or laundry.
8) What else am I going to do when Minnesota is dark at 4pm for SEVEN months a year.
9) Because after I do, I am always high, goofy and giggly on the endorphins!!

AND .....

10) Because I know that pain is temporary and quitting is forever--I won't give up on myself and NOT workout!

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