A Cuppa Cosy Reads – November 2020

Ah, November. I feel like I’ve been spending the past couple wrap ups saying, “Oh, I didn’t read as much as I hoped”, but in this case, maybe it’s true? I right these wrap ups throughout the month, noting my thoughts as I finish a book and in November I went a whole week without reading a thing. This is unheard of for the year 2020. So, while it may seem like I read a lot in November, quite a bit of it is along the comic/graphic novel side of things, rather than proper novels. I did find my stride once again close to Thanksgiving with a book that I’ll cover and that helped get me back on track with reading every day again. So, I ended up reading a total of 9 books and giving an average rating of 4 Stars. This month I did have a DNF book, which I don’t normally talk about, but I will touch on it towards the end of the post. 

The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson (PURCHASE) 4 Stars : I found this to be my least favorite of the books I’ve read of Sanderson’s, but still enjoyed it. This is a concluding novel to the Wax & Wayne trilogy, but also the last book in the Mistborn era of the Cosmere that is out so far. I enjoyed being back in the banter (even if it wasn’t as present) and enjoyed the expansion of the world we know and love, but found it to be a bit…lacking when compared to the others. (For what it’s worth- I LOVED Shadows of Self, it was my favorite)

Happily Ever After by Debbie Tung (PURCHASE) 5 Stars: Once again, Debbie Tung has managed to capture real life, with all its quirks and nuances, in such perfect bite sized comics. This is my third, and I will basically buy anything she comes out with at this point. 

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout 2 Stars: Objectively this was not the best by any stretch of the imagination. This is a fantasy romance (so there are some…explicit scenes), but I found it to be familiar, predictable and not convinced of the characters or story. I enjoyed it and will probably read the second at some point, but recognize that this just isn’t great. 

Anxious People by Frederik Backman (PURCHASE) 4 Stars I’ve got to say- this was way different from any Backman book I had ever read before (and very different from quite a few of the books that I’ve read this year), but I still really liked it and would stand by it. In Anxious People we are following a group of people who are put into an almost surreal situation of being taken hostage by a bank robber. But are they? Did it actually happen? And where is the bank robber? In a story that touches on humanity, real life, and what happens when we allow ourselves to take things at what they are, this will have you laughing, crying, and shaking your head in agreement the entire way through. I think my only downfall is that, since this book is so steeped in reality, and what life really is, it can be a bit melancholic at times. I found that there were so many lines that just screamed YES, but were also a bit “why though, why is it like this?”. So read it, but be prepared. 

Hyperbole & A Half by Alie Brosh (PURCHASE) NR This is a book told both in prose and comic detailing a variety of life’s problems. Alie has a comedic, but realistic way of detailing what she faces in her life, how she deals with depression, with everyday moments of her dogs. I found the approach of mixing prose with comic strips to be well done, as well as a nice way of illustrating exactly what she was saying. 

Heartstopper Volume 2 by Alice Oseman (PURCHASE) NR This continues to be the sweetest just heartwarming graphic novel. I’m not going to get too much into the Plot, but the growth that we continue to see in these characters is something that I think is unique to Alice Oseman. I find that she just handles these “coming of age in the digital age” style stories so well AND the concept of finding yourself and learning about who YOU are outside of societies expectations. Just…so good. 

City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (PURCHASE) 5 Stars Alright, the main event, the one that changed everything. You’ll notice that before this it was basically a string of comic or graphic novel books for most of the month, but this is where things changed. In City of Brass, we are following Nahri an orphaned girl living on the streets in Cairo peddling remedies for any illness. She’s a con artist of sorts- working “with” the local apothecary, but little known to anyone else, she does have a magical ability for healing. During a ritual for a local family, she summons a “djinn” and her entire world changes. Thrust into a role she didn’t expect, with a history she never knew, and a political landscape that is truly terrifying in some ways. This book is incredible. Steeped in middle eastern folklore, with a middle eastern setting, this historical fantasy (that’s what I’m categorizing it as) has all the depth of a Sanderson novel, but without all of the buildup and information dumps. I had no clues as to where the story was going as the moment I thought I knew; things would shift in a radical way. This book lived up to the hype and after reading it in 3 days, I finished it immediately needing the second (which I actually ordered when I was about 200 pages into this). 

Heartstopper Volume 3 by Alice Oseman (PURCHASE) NR This begins the…rest of my month where I switch between the City of Brass trilogy and the easier reads of Alice Oseman. Heartstopper Volume 3 continues the story of Nick & Charlie as they travel abroad, learn more about each other (such as Charlie’s mental health) and learn about what “being out” means. Once again, just another heartwarming graphic novel. 

Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty (PURCHASE) 5 Stars I mean…I just don’t even know what to say. This was incredible. This second book ups the ante of the world, the characters, and the very tether of humanity. Once again fast paced, realistic, and deeply flawed characters and story. I love this series and it is quickly ending up on my favorite of the year (maybe of all time?) list. It has taken me by storm and I’ve really been swept away. 

Solitaire by Alice Oseman (PURCHASE) 4 Stars Ok, so this is a bit of a cheat. I’m technically about 75 pages from the end when I’m writing this (Tues 12/1), BUT I’m going to be finishing it momentarily, so I’m including it. In Solitaire (Alice Oseman’s debut novel) we are following Tori Spring, a teen who likes to blog and is introverted to the extreme. I’ll be honest, I like this book for what it does. It paints a great picture of what reality is like in this new technology age and it gives a great insight into mental health. BUT with that also comes a real reading experience. Tori is dealing with some mental health issues and is incredibly pessimistic, which is painted so realistically that, while reading, can extend to the reader. Just something to note before reading. I had to read it in chunks to not fall into my own funk. 

I did “DNF” (Did Not Finish) a book, The Strange Case of the Alchemists Daughter by Theodora Goss. I think (I hope) that this is just a case of reading at the wrong time and am planning on trying to read it next year possibly. It’s a “who dun it” style mystery involving characters descended from famous literary scientists and features Sherlock and Watson. All good things, but I must have just picked it up at the wrong time. 

And that was my November! What did you read this month? Any new favorites?

Thankful in 2020

I think if 2020 has taught us anything it is to take stock. To evaluate, look at our lives, and see what we do have, rather than what we don’t. This Thanksgiving is going to be incredibly different and difficult for some. The holidays bring a lot of emotion, both good and bad, and this year, with the pandemic, with shifts in a lot of the things that we would normally expect, it makes it that much harder on everyone. If we are being totally honest and realistic, this holiday season has the potential of being incredibly depressing. It doesn’t have to be, but it’s going to be tough, let’s not kid ourselves about that. And, I’m not saying that sharing a list of all the things that we are thankful for is going to magically solve all of our problems (spoiler alert- IT’S NOT), it may help us with our perspective and remind us of what is in fact important. 

So, here we go… What I’m thankful for in 2020…

I’m thankful for my little family. No one can put a smile on my face (or rip it off) like my boys and husband can. There have been a lot of times this year that they have completely lifted me into better spirits and a better mindset. Colton and Andrew have been incredible, growing and learning and showing us how to find joy in the smallest of discoveries. If ever I need a reminder of what life can be it’s through their eyes. Robert reminds me that we are not alone in this world. He has been my shining light, picking me up when I’m down, letting me breathe in our room when it’s a little too much, and being the most incredible dad and husband that I could ever dream of. I quite honestly, couldn’t imagine a life without him. 

I’m thankful for the friends that I’ve made here. I’m not one for having a big circle or knowing everyone in the community (although chances are I probably will by default), but rather cultivating a few close friends that remind me that quality is better than quantity. I’ve always been that kind of person (the person who has maybe 2 or 3 really close friends and then a long list of “acquaintances”), and living here in Germany has shown me that more than anywhere else. I’ve made one of the closest friends I’ve had in a while and I’ve found another who understands so much of what I’ve been through and some of the struggles that we experience. 

I’m thankful that we’ve been blessed to call this little village in Germany our home. For all the lessons we’ve learned living in a foreign country, seeing other countries, and learning the culture and history. I’m thankful for the experience of being pushed out of our “comfort zone” (though that’s probably debatable as to what our “comfort zone” really is) and, while it’s coming to a bittersweet end much sooner than we anticipated, it’s something I will forever cherish and be grateful for. 

I’m thankful for the travel that we have been able to do while living here in Germany (especially in this year 2020). We’ve been able to see so many places, so many different histories, cultures, and communities. The fact that we’ve been able to see and explore so much is a true blessing and something I don’t take for granted. 

I’m thankful for books, music, tea, and coffee. Hear me out. Books have been my single form of escapism this year. I haven’t been the biggest TV watcher in a long time and the only way I’ve really been able to get away from our real world has been through reading. I’ve read more books in 2020 than I’ve ever read (and that’s even with having a slower November than I expected) and I honestly think it has been such a big help. Music is another really important mood booster for me. I find that music really sets the tone and has such a powerful ability to adjust our mood and our day. And tea and coffee, because let’s be honest, we all are thankful for those these days. 

Finally, I’m thankful for you. For whoever takes time out of their day to follow along our journey, to read the posts, to engage with my content. You have no idea how nice it is to have comments and stories shared. This little blog is a passion hobby for me and something that I have really found meaning in over the past couple of years. It’s helped my mind, helped me keep my memories, and just been such a nice place to come to day in and day out. 

What are you thankful for this year?

A Cuppa Cosy Heads Back Stateside

Well, it’s come to an end. Or rather a new beginning has come. Glass half full, right?

I have put off writing this post for a long time. And then, when I finally sat down to write it, I went back and forth and re wrote things multiple times. You see, in an incredibly surprising turn of events (to us at least) we found out over the summer that we were only supposed to be in Germany for 2 years, rather than the 3 that we had planned on. To say we were shocked was an understatement. Shock quickly turned to disappointment and sadness at the thought of leaving the place that we have very quickly started to call home so soon. As we started to sort through all of the feelings we were experiencing (which were a lot and were exacerbated by being separated at the time) it became a situation where we needed to look forward to where we would be going next. 

It has taken some time to come to as much peace as I could to write this post and NOT come off in any other way than positive about this change. I’ll be honest, I cried a lot of tears about heading back The States. I’ve made it no secret how much I’ve loved living here in Germany. The benefits have far outweighed the hard moments (which there have been) and I’ve really learned a lot about life, about my little family, about friendship, and about myself being here. We’ve done and seen so much here, and while we celebrate everything that we’ve been able to see and experience, we also, in a way, mourn the closing of this chapter. 

I’m trying not to get to deep into my feelings or into all of the things (though my 2020 wrap up will have A LOT to say), but basically the gist is, in the first few months of 2021 we will be moving. Our new chapter is going to be in New York and we are excited to be in a small town in a beautiful area. There is a lot to celebrate, being able to see our families, shopping at target, eating Chipotle, and much more and we are trying to focus on all of the good that will be coming our way with this move, rather than the bittersweet feelings of saying goodbye to this incredible place. 

So, that’s my incredibly short life update for you. Probably one of the shortest posts I’ve written, but I honestly don’t have much to say about it. It’s one of those things that you process and then try not to continue to focus on as you try to stay positive. 

Small Business Shopping 2020

Here’s the deal, 2020 has flipped the tables on all of us. With that, I have made the decision to start talking about the big shopping holidays of the year, much earlier than I normally do. I’ve put my lights up around my windows, the decorations have started peaking around the house, and…the holiday shopping has begun. Now, I typically shop early anyways as we live in Europe right now (so if I want to order anything from the states I have to do so early), but also because my organization just…makes me do it ha-ha. 

I always advocate for shopping small, however 2020 has shown us just how important small business is and how fragile it can be. I think as we head into the shopping season there are several steps we can take to support small businesses and help take care of our own cities and towns. I can say that being an entrepreneur is an incredibly difficult undertaking and those who do it, are putting all of their heart and soul into their business. That business is one that is close to heart and is something that they believe in. We can support that spirit in many different ways. 

Before we get into all of that, I am going to touch on something that I’ve been wanting to talk about for a hot minute…Amazon. 

I’m not here to lecture about using Amazon, nor am I here to tell you to completely stop using them. I get the draw: items are usually cheaper on Amazon, shipping is faster (and if you have Prime it’s free), and overall, just hopping on to the app and using one click is just…easier. It also does have a area that advertises local, small business items that you can purchase. I GET IT. I have nothing against using Amazon in certain situations, when you need something in a pinch, or if you are quarantine and can’t leave your home, or if you are in a tighter financial budget. HOWEVER, I think for the vast majority of us, it should not be our first stop for our shopping needs. It’s no secret the sheer amount of wealth, the employment issues, and other issues that have come to light over the past couple of years. Amazon has quickly taken over across quite a few industries and we are seeing the effect that that is having. It may not seem like it (after all- you are still able to get what you need through Amazon), but our main streets lined with local business, those same entrepreneurs that are trying to survive are being taken out. 

When I shop (because I am not perfect and I do still go to Amazon for certain things), I try to treat Amazon as a true last-minute option. If I need something fast (like when I needed to order night lights for my child who decided at 2AM one night that he wanted to do night time potty training) or if I am trying to maybe cut a bit of the cost (again- night lights for a voltage that we won’t be using when we leave here). Otherwise I try to do a couple of different things: 

 1)Is there a local business that I can support with my purchase. This can be anything from your local grocery/center store OR a boutique that carries what you are looking for. I find that not only buying local supports the town and business owners, but also gives you a chance to get something cute and unique that only you or the person you are gifting will have. For us, I try to pick up things from small shops on our various travels as I know that those would be appreciated much more than something similar I can get off of Amazon. The purchase also comes with a story, which can be fun as well and shows an extra bit of thought put into the purchase.

2) I try to go directly to the company. ***This isn’t the best example as this isn’t a small business, but it applies to us this year so I’m trying to make it work.***This year the boys are getting mostly Lego sets for the holidays, so instead of buying off of Amazon, I am ordering for Lego directly. Sure it’s a bit more expensive or there may be a shipping cost involved (with Lego if you spend over a certain amount shipping is free and I know several other companies do this as well), but as a part of the loyalty program I get points for future purchases or discounts at the parks. I still get the same product, but I’ve supported the business directly and I’ve earned potential discounts in the future. 

Finally, a good alternative to Amazon in some ways can be Etsy. Etsy still charges per listing and takes a cut of the profits, BUT most of the companies on Etsy ARE small businesses and it’s a great way to find a personal alternative. I highly highly recommend Etsy and I have personally found quite a few gifts to purchase through them. Not to mention, there is an app that provides a lot of similar options to Amazons (one click shopping, shipping to several addresses, gift wrap options, etc). 

Now that I’m off my soap box for a minute, let’s talk about this years Small Business List. Most of these have not changed since the last time I spoke about supporting Small Business, BUT to be honest, I haven’t done much shopping beyond book shopping this year haha. So, please feel free to add your options in the comments for others as well. 

We are going to start with what I’ve spent the most amount of money on this year (second to travel actually)…books. (***Anyone surprise?***)

First things first, if you are wanting to purchase books as gifts this year, and they’ve already been published, go ahead an purchase them now. This is for a couple different reasons, the first being the independent book store/general book store industry is suffering. The second reason is that there are a couple of books coming out towards the end of this year that have massive print runs coming. This is going to put pressure on the printing houses and may cause delays or back orders of other print runs. So, buy early!

Second, if you are wanting to purchase books as gifts this year (or just purchase books in general), you’re purchasing options SHOULD be ordered as the following:

  1. Your local independent bookstore. This will be a massive boon to the booksellers and may make a difference in keeping a bookstore open. 
  2. Bookshop.Org OR your other favorite independent bookstore that you can purchase through online. Bookshop.org is a great option as it directly benefits bookstores across the board and allows you to purchase books from any independent bookstore online. In the past months you’ll have noticed on my mothly reading wrap ups, the links point back to their site. Beyond that, you can purchase online from quite a large amount of independent bookstores simply by going to their websites. Quite a few will ship worldwide as well. The Strand made headlines recently with its plea to the public about shopping the store and while we can debate the merits of that plea (there is a whole separate story on that), the plea remains across the board for many independent bookstores. If you don’t have a local one, check out some online. I’ve personally bookmarked both The Bookshelf in Georgia, Powells in Oregon, Shakespeare and Co in Paris, as well as some others.
  3. Chain Bookstores. Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, Chapters (for those in Canada), Blackwells (for those in Europe, Hugendubel for my local Germany friends) and many others are great options for purchasing as well. These are specifically bookstores and your money will go back into the book industry (in a way) and thus allow them to continue to operate. All have online websites as well and good shipping turn around if you don’t want to shop in store. 

The next shopping option I am going to talk about is art/photography/home décor bits that go on your wall. I’ve discovered some new art and home décor options this year that I’ve really fallen in love with, and so I wanted to share. 

  1. KelsConversePhoto. Kelsey is an elopement photographer, but she also does travel photography and has shared purchasing options for some of her prints from travels. OR You could hire here to shoot some adventure photography- whatever you choose you will get some stunning images.
  2. Anne Street Studio. These are masterpieces. I actually have my eye on a piece or two of her work as they are truly magnificent pieces of art. Styled still life photographs she not only sells prints, but also offers cell phone cases. Also- give her a follow on Instagram (jamiebeckco) as she details out how she gets the shot and the meaning behind it, as well as life in France.

Finally, some other options for clothes/jewellry/mugs. I’ve shopped all three of these stores and have loved everything I’ve gotten and highly recommend them.

  1. Taylor Wolfe Shop. The best sweatshirts and shirts that you can find around. I’ve been following Taylor for a little while on Instagram (she’s hilarious- follow her) and finally purchased one of her “Social Distance Club” sweatshirts in the spring/summer. It’s the softest, comfiest thing I own and I am very much eye-ing a couple other shirts. 
  2. Rachel Allene. The mugs that will put a smile on your face every time you use them. If you know me, you know I’m a mug fanatic and I could probably buy every mug she makes – they hold the perfect amount of liquid AND have an inspirational or cheerful message attached. She also does clothes and notebooks.
  3. Mermaids and Dinosaurs. Custom jewelry that is all handmade just for you (or your gift recipient). I have several pieces of her jewelry and have thought about getting another piece or two. 

If you are looking for Jewish items, I would encourage you to check out peace.love.light or Shalom House Fine Judaica, OR Etsy for worldwide options. 

I could list so many other small businesses, so pay attention to my Instagram Stories as I’ll be sharing several small businesses throughout the coming weeks to purchase from. 

If you can’t purchase from small businesses for whatever reason, you can support in several other, no charge to you ways by commenting on their social media, tagging friends, sharing posts, saving posts, sending links to your friends/family. Anything to help get word of the business out to others will help. 

And now, almost 2000 words later we have reached the end. Maybe I should have split this into two posts, I’m not sure. If you want to share your own small business or one that you know of in the comments, please do! 

Round the Kettle Ep. 29: What A Time…

Man, oh man, what a couple of weeks. What a time we’ve had. I’m writing this on Friday morning after a couple of really tough motherhood weeks, tough mental health weeks, AND the election still hasn’t been decided yet. What a time. 

I’ve been trying to be a bit more open and honest on my social media in regard to the struggles that have been presented the past few weeks in motherhood/parenthood. It’s been rough, not going to lie and sharing that is hard for two reasons…

  1. There is this societal expectation that we are supposed to present the happy family, with the well-behaved children, perfect parenting techniques, a smile at all times, and a thankful/they’re only young for a while mentality. Not only does society place this expectation on us as mothers, but it’s so ingrained that often times we place this expectation on ourselves, and when we are “off” our games, it hits ten times harder in a feeling of overwhelm and failure. 
  2. There is a multi-layered fear of being so “open”. We all know that there are very real problems in our world, and there are levels of “there are worse things”, there is the judgement that comes (as mentioned above) that is much more difficult to navigate online as people tend to be a bit more open with their fingers and keyboards in a way they wouldn’t be with their mouths in person (let’s not dissect that sentence too deeply…please). This is a very valid fear, that is tied to point 1 above.

I know for me personally part of the problem is I’ve always been the “strong one”, the “cheery/positive one”, the person who is there for everyone else, who shoulders others burdens so they can unload. The safe place. And being seen as that, it makes it so much harder to then be “weak”. To be vulnerable and open about when I struggle. 

Further, I come from such a privileged position, that often times my problems in my little corner seem so small in comparison to that of the world’s problems. When I have a rough day, it is nothing in comparison to someone else. I recognize this and it makes me shrink into myself even more. BUT, that’s not healthy and it’s not a way to live. 

I posted the following on my social media and I feel like it perfectly encapsulates everything: 

“Even the strong can grow weary, the stoic can break, and sometimes those falls can be the quietest of all.”

So, I’ve been struggling. I’ve been struggling being a mother, I’ve been struggling to feel like myself, I’ve been struggling to find moments to breathe. Sometimes it has felt like everything has been stacked against me and I’m backed into the corner of “just do what you do to get through it- deal with everything else later”. That’s a very real feeling. That is something that happens so often to people. 

I have been trying to get some solo time, to do a little self-care, to find the little joys. I’ve done my nails. I’ve done yoga, gotten dressed, put makeup on. Little things here and there to remind me of myself. I went for a 6-mile solo walk that included picking up fresh baked goods and tea for the journey, and reminding myself what peace feels like. And that walk? That probably helped the most out of all of it. A couple hours where I had nothing. No decisions to make. No conversation to hold. No children to watch out for. Nothing. While I came home and was semi thrust back into parenting (thankfully my husband had the boys outside on bikes, so I got a bit more peace and then naptime), I still saw the smallest glimpse of the cheery, strong, Mia. 

I’m not saying the walk fixed everything, and that couple hours solved all the problems. In fact, if not careful, those moments can be taken away in a heartbeat (I’ve got a whole rant on this coming…), BUT a few more of those moments in time, a little bit more attention on finding those moments in the everyday, and it’ll add up.  

On a cheerier note…

I’ve started planning out the big one, the big holiday, dare I say it? Christmas. I’m one of those people who likes to be way ahead of the bandwagon and I usually have a “plan” for gifts by end of October, with everything purchased in the beginning of November. That’s great! How organized! Except then I’ll wait until Christmas Eve to wrap them…so win some, lose some I suppose.  Anyways, all that to say, I’ve got all of the boys presents mapped out this year, as well as a couple of friends. I always feel really organized and ahead of the curve, BUT it makes the wait time till Christmas excruciating. I’m not good at surprises or keeping things to myself. I love to see the reactions, the excitement, the massive grins and squeals of joy, so having all of this stuff just sat in my house waiting is torture. 

Are you an early planner or a wait till the last-minute shopper? 

Finally, I’ve done a fair bit of computer work the past few days. A lot of computer admin, clearing out older photos and files, exporting everything to hard drives, freeing up space both on the computer and on my phone. A lot of writing, sorting through information, planning out posts. I’ve found that maybe I have a bit more to say about certain things than I thought I did…so here lies a question for you. 

What do YOU want to see more of? What questions do you have? What is something you want to hear more about? Let me know. 

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – October 2020

The spooky month has come to an end! I tried to focus solely on spooky/creepy/thrilling reads for this month, BUT towards the end of the month I HAD to switch things up a little bit. Overall, I would say after a meh start to the month, I ended really strong. My overall stats this month were good (better than I expected) with a total of 11 books read and 3.66 average rating. We are starting to approach the end of the year I am looking at wrapping up series, and some 2020 releases over the next couple months. BUT we are getting massively ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about what I read in October. 

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid (PURCHASE) 3.5 Stars: I am not entirely sure how to talk about this book? In this short novel we are following a couple while they are on a road trip to “meet the parents”. The night quickly unravels as they make a last-minute stop that changes everything. This is easily one of the most unnerving books I’ve read of recent. I’ve been reaching for books that are just weird, that I can’t explain, that are just…out there and this is no different. It isn’t inherently terrifying, but rather an unnerving thriller where you are more scared by the lack of…anything than anything else. 

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (PURCHASE) 4 Stars: I LOVED this one. What a twisty turny ride of a story. Here we follow what you would consider the All-American Family- husband, wife, son, daughter, living in a gated suburban community. He is a tennis coach, she a real estate broker. BUT who are they really? What secrets do they hide? This story will have you questioning if what you see if real and who really pulls the strings. I really enjoyed this one. While I did sort of know what was coming down (who/what/why), I did like watching it all unfold in the deliciously dramatic way it did. 

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (PURCHASE) 3 Stars: Ah, may be a bit of an unpopular opinion, but I found this to be OK. Maybe it’s because I prefer haunted house stories in a visual way OR because this was just a staple of its time, but either way it was just OK. This is what you would consider a “typical Haunted House” story, with a paranormal investigator and three others set up to spend a stretch of time in one of the most active haunted houses. The house itself is strange, but the people seem primed to make things happen around them. Will they make it out alive? Like I’ve already said, a solid but average read. 

Verity by Colleen Hoover (PURCHASE – but don’t) 2 Stars: This book was one giant nope from me. In Verity we are following a young, practically unheard-of writer, who gets hired to continue a famous series of books after the original author becomes unable to complete them. She goes to stay in said writers’ home and starts to realize that maybe all isn’t as it seems. Look, I’m all for pushing the reader, pushing the boundaries, but this was just…not it. I spent the entire reading experience shaking my head, screaming at characters (of which none were likable), and just wondering why I was still reading. Finished it in 24 hours somehow and am now getting rid of it.

When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole (Purchase) 4 Stars: I loved this book. It not only tackles very real problems in our very real world, but gives the reader a way to maybe see something that they wouldn’t normally see through various characters eyes (literally a wide array of people could probably empathize with at least one of the many characters in this story). In this story we are following two characters battling with the changing look to their neighborhood. It seems that the expansion project may not be as…beneficial as organizers think it is and there may just be a sinister element to this “rejuvenation” of the neighborhood. Look, this one is a good read to get a grasp on certain topics that very much exist and apply to our world without necessarily reading a nonfiction book. The only reason I docked a star was for the pacing, which was a bit off throughout the story. 

Heartstopper Volume 1 (PURCHASE) 3 Stars: This was just a heartwarming graphic novel. In Heartstopper we follow Nick and Charlie as they work to find themselves, find friendship, and tackle “high school”. This is just a sweet story and was a nice way to break up the creepy reads that have basically been my October. 

Becoming by Michelle Obama (PURCHASE) NR A book that I think just about everyone has heard about, but tells the story of Michelle’s life. I listened to the audio book (which I think is the way to go with most memoirs) and found the experience and stories she shares to be moving and informative. There are so many take lessons that you can take from the life that she has already lived, and it was a good listen.

The Hunger by Alma Katsu (PURCHASE) 3.5 Stars. This was the book that made me realize…maybe it was time to stop reading all the creepy reads. In The Hunger we are following along the disaster ridden Donner Party as they make their trek west. What really happened? Was there something more to the story? This is a story that creeps up on you, similar to what is happening to our characters in the story. It is creepy in a way that maybe you don’t recognize at the beginning (until you start having nightmares that mirror the story). 

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (PURCHASE) 5 Stars Man, I didn’t go into this book expecting a 5-star read, but boy did I get one. In Radio Silence we are following a teen who thought she had her life figured out…until she didn’t. A modern coming of age story that deals with technology, current themes, and much more this is well worth picking up. I ended the book crying the tears that can only come after you spend a whole book rooting for a group of characters to succeed. I think Radio Silence is a good read for both teenagers and adults (for a multitude of reasons), so HIGHLY recommend. 

Finding Freedom by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand (PURCHASE) NR I think we all know what this book is, but if you don’t this is basically the Meghan and Harry (Duke & Duchess of Sussex) story. The story of their relationship, life, and subsequent step down from The Royal Family. A fun fact about me, but I love the British Royal Family and have been for quite a long time (from a history perspective too, not just in the modern sense). Without getting into too much detail about all of that, this book was OK. It’s basically written in a series of long form blog posts discussing and refuting each aspect of their lives from the beginning of their relationship to their stepping down. I wouldn’t say that there was a lot of information or insight gleamed with the reading of this book, rather than a feeling of vindication on behalf of the authors in getting to tell “the other side”.  They obviously spoke to close friends and sources; however, a lot of information has since been refuted by Meghan and Harry (in their ongoing legal case against tabloids) so take it with a grain of salt. 

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (PURCHASE) 5 Stars I just don’t think it gets any better than classic Agatha Christie mysteries. In this one we are following a group of 10 guests as they are invited to a mysterious island, where shortly after arrival they start to be murdered. I don’t have much to say about this one, other than it’s great. A classic who done it, that really makes you feel just as lost as the island’s inhabitants. This was a book that truly proved the adage of Agatha being the queen of crime. 

And that was it! All the books I read in the month of October, whew. What did you read in the past month? Any catch your attention?

Kurbisausstellung Ludwigsburg – An Autumnal Weekend

When you talk about Germany in Autumn, about moving to Germany or visiting, people usually talk about Oktoberfest, seeing the leaves turn in Bavaria, watching an Almabtrieb, or the gray, foggy, rainy days. BUT there is a festival that occurs September through November (or into December) every year that is quite the show to see…the Kurbisausstellung Ludwigsburg, or Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival. This was the final piece of my Autumn in Germany trifecta and I was so happy that we were able to get to make it this year. 

To start with, this festival is the largest pumpkin festival in the world. It is hosted on the grounds of the Residential Palace of Ludwigsburg and boasts over 450,000 pumpkins (600 varieties). Pumpkins are used from everything to display, carving, eating, even rowing in (although due to Covid-19 this did not happen in 2020). Most of the pumpkins are grown locally in the district, however all are from within Germany. 

I don’t really have a lot of history on the festival itself, but rather sharing what made this so much cooler than just going to a pumpkin patch for a day. There are basically two things that set the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival apart, the food and the sculptures. 

Every year there is a theme set for the festival and it sets the tone for all of the pumpkin sculptures. For the year 2020, the theme was “Music”, so we saw sculptures of famous musicians (check out the Kiss tongue and Beethoven), various musical instruments, and musicians themselves playing instruments (that DJ was MASSIVE). The sculptures are constructed using pumpkins, locally sourced wood, and locally sourced straw. That was one of the things that I really admired about the festival, the idea of locally sourcing materials- it’s a great way to boost local produce and reduce waste. 

Most of the walkways are laid with wooden paths and the route to take is somewhat easily laid out. Once you walk through the entrance and the first set of gardens, which contain bred pumpkins and a few carved sculptures (don’t miss those!), you are in the main “sculpture garden”. This was where we saw most of the sculptures (although there are plenty spread throughout), various activities (except the regatta, which is held up on a higher separate end) and where a good majority of the food and shopping vendors are. You are able to not only purchase pumpkins and pumpkin related food/drinks (I’ll get into this later), but you are also able to purchase a selection of local items AND various items featuring shots of the current year sculptures. 

While the pumpkin festival is the main focus of this time at the Palace, you are able to explore the full gardens and see all the little nooks and crannies, such as the fairy-tale garden. The Fairy-Tale Garden offers an adventure all its own with its historic play spots, fairytale renderings, and boat and train rides. We had a lot of fun wandering the enchanted pathways and stopping to see all the fairytales come to life (note- these are more along the line of the actual Grimm Fairytale style, not the Disney rendition). 

As you walk through the garden you are led through to the castle (part of the Fairy-Tale Garden) and then led back towards the Large Bird garden. Everything loops back around, and you find yourself back in the main sculpture garden (if you choose to loop around). It’s a beautiful tour of the gardens and a nice way to spend the day. 

Now, the second draw of the Pumpkin Festival…all the pumpkin food items. From pumpkin seeds to pumpkin pesto to pumpkin drinks, the festival is a foodie and/or pumpkin flavor fiends dream. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of pumpkin flavoring, but I was game to try whatever and came away with a couple of new things.

For lunch we got the Penne with Pumpkin Pesto and the Pumpkin Spaetzle with pumpkin and cream sauce. My husband really like the Spaetzle and I LOVED the pumpkin pesto. So much so, that I picked up a jar to take home with me. We both opted to drink the sparkling pumpkin water, which was less of a hit ( I couldn’t finish mine). Too much pumpkin flavoring in that, I’m more of a hint of pumpkin kinda gal. To take home and try I picked up a black tea as well as the sparkling Pumpkin Wine, which I heard SO MANY people talk about and knew I had to try. Will report back as to whether I enjoyed both of those. ***Update- I really enjoyed the Pumpkin Wine- will be ordering a full bottle of that***

Finally, on the way out of the festival we were able to see the largest pumpkin contest. This contest is normally open to breeders all over the world, but given the pandemic, this year only included Germany and Austria. There are several categories, but the winner this year was a pumpkin weighing 745 kilograms (1645lbs!). It’s a massive pumpkin and you are able to check it out, along with second and third and other notable entries at the front of the palace. 

On the whole, we loved our time at the Kurbisausstellung Ludwigsburg and I’m so glad we went. This is a must-see event that runs every year September through November (and sometimes into December weather/pumpkin/pandemic providing). Ludwigsburg also advertises another adventure farm festival at Jucker Farm to check out as well, so maybe add that to the list as well. 

Auschwitz I & Auschwitz II-Birkenau Concentration Camps

***Disclaimer at the beginning of this post , there may be content in here that is painful to view . Please be cautioned***

We recently spent a morning visiting Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau in Poland. This was our third concentration camp (fourth overall site as we also visited Lidice), we had done Dachau Concentration Camp and Kaufering VII, a Dachau subcamp. Visiting Auschwitz was different from the first due to its history and the information we learned after the liberation. Similar to my previous Concentration Camp posts, I don’t truly have the words for what this experience was like. There is nothing to truly do it justice, so instead of writing a whole bunch of words that will not come close, I am going to let the pictures tell the story. Maybe I’ll share my personal thoughts/experiences/tips in a later post. 

A quick note on our visit before anything else. We went early Sunday morning (an 8:30AM tour time) and took a guided tour. While I would recommend visiting in the early hours, as it is emptier and quieter, whether you take a tour or not is completely your choice. As someone who is Jewish, was raised in the faith and still maintains the faith (to an extent and for another post entirely), I am incredibly familiar with The Holocaust and the concentration camp history. My husband is familiar with the history as well. I don’t know that I learned any new information, BUT the guide helped put things into perspective and really walked you through the barracks and locations. The tour guides (at least ours) do not mince words. Everything is in exacting detail, which can be something to take note of. We did take our boys (aged 4 &3) and they were incredibly respectful throughout our entire visit (I don’t know that I am really going to talk about this decision- to each their own in this instance). 

If you do choose to visit, please note that the two camps are not truly within walking distance of each other. Auschwitz I does have a bus that runs between the camps OR you can drive. If you take a tour, you will start at Auschwitz I and then take the bus over to Auschwitz II-Birkenau to continue. Both are necessary to visit. 

I’m going to start with some brief history of the camps before I get into the photos. This will brief, if you are wanting a full breakdown, I would suggest any of the many books and survivors’ experiences (I find that a combination of both will be best). You can also see the Auschwitz website here for an introduction, however I would highly encourage you to do some reading in addition. It will allow you to get a true feeling for the time, the life, the camp. 

Auschwitz was established in 1940 (the first transport to arrive was actually mid Jan 1940) in the suburbs of a small city called Oswiecim. This city was annexed to the Nazi’s (The Third Reich) and later the residents and city was relocated as a way to hide what was happening within the camp. The original reason the camp was created was to house the Polish prisoners who were being arrested in large numbers. It was initially intended to simply serve a similar purpose to those the Nazi’s had already been setting up since the 1930’s (such as Dachau). True to its’ initial plan, Auschwitz did remain in this function of prison camp, even with the addition of the extermination centers. Auschwitz is actually 3 different camps. Auschwitz I was the “main camp” and held around 15,000-20,000 prisoners. The second was Birkenau, later known as Auschwitz II-Birkenau, which was the largest part of the complex and the main center of the Jewish population of the area, as well as the main extermination camp. The Nazi’s built up this second camp in 1941 (and this was when the residents were relocated) and, in 1944, it held over 90,000 prisoners.  The final camp was created from the largest sub camp (of which there were 40), Buna with 10,000 prisoners. It opened in 1942 and is not able to be visited (I believe it no longer exists).

In total, 1.3 million were sent to Auschwitz (across the board), within 1.1 million of those people dying. While the majority of the deaths were Jews (of the 960,000 that died, 865,000 died upon arrival), there were also Poles (non-Jewish), Roma, Soviet POW’s, and others. If the prisoners were not sent to the gas chambers, they died of starvation, disease, medical experiments, or from many other causes to include individual executions. The camp was liberated January 27, 1945, a day now commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, by the Soviet Red Army.  Auschwitz has become a symbol of the Holocaust and all of its atrocities and the location was named an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. 

Most people know about Auschwitz and Dachau (and Treblinka or Bergen-Belson or some of the other known, but smaller camps). As I said with visiting Dachau, it is one thing to read/hear/talk about these places and the atrocities that occurred, but it is something wholly different to walk them. To walk these paths. To see the tons of shoes, or suitcases, or hair (so much hair) taken from the victims. To walk from the rail car to the chambers. To feel the weight of those who came and died before you. I am not going to mince words; you don’t need words. You need images. So, I’ll be giving you the general gist at the start of pictures (and you can hopefully see the captions under the pictures to tell you what’s what), but nothing more than that. 

***PLEASE NOTE THERE WILL BE IMAGES THAT ARE DISTURBING TO VIEW. PLEASE BE CAUTIONED***

So, as I’ve already mentioned, we started our tour at Auschwitz I. It’s important to note that this particular camp was for polish prisoners, military/command barracks, and was used for Nazi propaganda. This is not a camp that the Jews or…well anyone who wasn’t a polish prisoner, or a consumer of the propaganda would see. 

Within Auschwitz I there are displays set up to show not only how certain aspects of the camp were run, but also in memorial of the victims who were murdered. 

You are also able to walk through the gas chamber and crematorium of Auschwitz I. These were not the main locations of the mass extermination, just temporary. These are the only chambers and crematoria that you are able to see as the Nazi’s destroyed the main complexes. 

From Auschwitz I, we headed over to Auschwitz II-Birkenau. This was the main camp for the Jews, Roma, and anyone deemed “undesirable”. This was where they were brought (again, they didn’t see Auschwitz I, just this). Those that lived through transport were then selected for either the gas chambers, hard labor, or medical experiments.

The two main gas chamber and crematoria complexes were exploded by the Nazi’s as they attempted to hide these atrocities, but the remains are here (and you are able to see how they were operated above).  

Finally, at Auschwitz II-Birkenau we were able to walk into one of the barracks that would have been used during the camps operation.

The one that we walked in was actually used for isolation of women prisoners who were selected as unfit and were to be sent to the gas chambers. If this barrack was full, they would be placed in the yard and the gate was locked until they were taken to the gas chambers. 

“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness” – Elie Wiesel

Round The Kettle Ep. 28: An Anniversary

October 18, 2014. A day that marked the next step in our lives. The day we pledged ourselves to each other. In sickness and health, for richer or poorer, as long as we both shall live. And now here we are. 6 years, 2 kids, 1 domestic and 1 international move, and countless adventures later. Still as madly in love as we were the first day we met. 

I remember the day that I met my husband. It’s funny because looking back…oof there could have been so many things to be wary of, but for us it worked. We had been chatting for a little while, but finally getting the chance to meet in person. It was a gray, drizzly day and our original plan was to go for a hike together, but the rain wasn’t clearing so we had dinner instead (then the rain cleared, we went for a hike, and it was all very romantic and cheesy- I’ll spare you). 

I remember the first time he told me he loved me. It’s funny because of my response. Walking home from a friend’s house and he just stopped us in the middle of a bridge. He says, “I love you” and me? I say, “Are you serious?”, followed by “I love you too”. I was in such a state of shock that my brain, heart, and mouth completely stopped communicating with each other. 

I remember the day he proposed to me. It’s also funny because it also happened to be the day I snapped at him about dropping hints but not following through (ya’ll- it had been MONTHS of teasing about proposing…I was over the teasing ha-ha). I remember him being extra paranoid about the weather (rain and gray skies again- starting to see a theme). We hiked up to a natural bridge and he got down on one knee. I remember the flurry of butterflies, the choked-up feeling of saying yes, the thrill of sharing our happiest news. 

I remember the day we got married. Gray skies again, which seemed to bode well for us, but a beautiful Autumn day, nonetheless. I had never been happier (and I think the same could be said for him). The entire day was spent as if in a dream and a feeling of such joy and love I thought I would burst. I remember the little details about the day that most would forget, they are implanted in my mind. I remember the feeling of my hands in his, the feeling of sliding the rings on, lighting the candle, and being introduced as Mr. & Mrs. And, since the funny bits still seem to follow us, I remember my husband spending the entire morning of our wedding day in the woods hunting, while the girls and I were in the hotel room watching Harry Potter and getting our hair and makeup done. 

I never truly expected where our life would take us, that we would be celebrating this anniversary in Germany, drinking alcohol we purchased in Italy, watching our two little boys play and grow and learn. I love this man more than I did all those years ago, and I know that love will continue to grow and change as the years continue. I love the family and life that we have created for ourselves. And, most importantly, I can’t wait to see what is next for us, for our family, for our lives together. 

Interlaken-Oberhasli District, Switzerland – A Long Weekend

We recently just spent a long weekend in Switzerland. Ok, I need a moment already, just from typing those words. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would utter that sentence. Never. 

Ok, shock over. We recently spent a long weekend in Switzerland, and it was glorious. Where do I even begin? My husband’s only requirements for the trip was to be able to see/be at the top of the Alps, so we picked a spot right near Interlaken, in the heart of the mountains and lakes. With COVID-19 restrictions we were restricted from traveling to some of the major cities, and we wanted to be a bit…off the way. When a local friend posted about a hotel she stayed at right on Lake Brienz, I knew that was where we needed to be. 

One little, teensy, note to make about Switzerland before we get into the meat of this post. If you know anything or have heard anything about Switzerland it is that it is an expensive place to visit. This is not an exaggeration. You will need to plan accordingly for this visit and budget if you need. There are certainly ways to make it a “cheaper” trip, but it will never be inexpensive. For us, I knew that this was going to up towards the more expensive trips we took on our time here and I was 100% ok with that. It was more important to me that we did what we wanted to do and enjoyed our time without worrying about the cost necessarily. With that being said, there were a couple of things that we DID NOT do, which I will get into later. 

Before we got to Switzerland though, we made a stop at KZ-Lager Kaufering VII. This is a European Holocaust Memorial in Landsberg Germany and is the largest remote area (sub camp) of Dachau Concentration Camp. There was a total of 11 of these sub camps of Dachau and this one has the actual remains of the tube style barracks. In total these camps saw 30,000 prisoners, with at least 14,500 prisoners dying over the time the camp was open. Exact numbers are not known as the records do not match up (one study found upwards of 44,000+). The camps were intended to put prisoners to work on an armament project, without any consideration by the guards for the health and safety of the prisoners. During the war crimes investigation, it was discovered that these sub camps were the worst in Bavaria and the prisoners came to refer to them as “cold crematorias”.     

We were not able to walk inside the camp and see the buildings and cemetery up close, but you could still get a feel from outside the fence. This is the second concentration camp we’ve been to (Dachau Concentration Camp being the first and hopefully a visit to Auschwitz soon) and I will never be able to fully verbalize the experience. So, once again, I will let pictures say what I cannot. 

After that, we headed off on our Switzerland Adventure. We stayed at the Hotel Seiler au Lac. Not only is the hotel itself incredible (you can request a lake front room, all of which have balconies looking right out to the water- swoon), but the staff were incredibly helpful and went above and beyond our needs. We opted to have breakfast at the hotel (included), which was handled excellently with COVID restrictions. We did also opt to have dinner at the hotel restaurants (one night at each- two restaurants attached to the hotel), and both meals were delicious. This particular hotel is located in Bonigen, Switzerland, a quick distance away from Interlaken (you can walk or take a bus- passes were offered by the hotel), and only a 20-30 minute drive to either Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald (Berne is about 45 minutes away if you want to go there as well). 

Our first evening was mostly spent wandering around Lake Brienz before settling into our hotel and grabbing dinner at the Pizzeria attached to the hotel. 

We set off late the next morning to head into Interlaken. 

Here is where I am going to clarify some of our choices in activities. There are a couple of things that I base “what we do” on, the biggest factor being the weather. It was a wet and rainy morning in our area of Switzerland, so we knew going to Jungfraujoch (the top of Europe- aka the highest point of Europe) was going to be hit or miss. The second factor, less so than weather, is cost. This is really only specific to Switzerland as things are, generally, more expensive in the country. We made the decision to pass on heading up to Jungfraujoch as the potential for bad weather combined with the cost was not worth it for us. Instead we chose to top some of the smaller peaks, and this was just as incredible as anywhere else we could have stopped. 

So, back to our day. Chances are, if you’ve tried to take a train or summit one (read: many) of the Swiss Alp peaks, then you’ve gone through Interlaken. Not only is Interlaken the central city between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, but it is also a main transport gateway to the Alps in the region. You’ve got the two lakes, then the River Aare which flows between them (and therefore between the city). There has been a city in this location since the 12th century, but it was originally known as Aarmuhle (changed to Interlaken in 1891). It started out as the home of a convent and monastery, but as it continued to grow, it became a large city. It started to become known as a resort town in the early 19th century, with a railway opening in the 1870’s (and more following in the next 20-30 years). 

We spent most of the rainy morning walking throughout the town seeing all the beauty that is offered in the valley. I think one of the best things to do sometimes is to just walk around the streets. We didn’t have any “set ideas” of spots to see until the weather cleared, so we just walked. We stopped in for a light lunch and during that, the weather started to clear out. Faced with breathtaking blue skies, snowcapped peaks, and a new look at Interlaken, we decided to head up to Harder Kulm. 

Harder Kulm is the top of Interlaken. Rising 1,322 meters above Sea Level you are able to get an incredible view of Interlaken, the peaks around the city (opposite), as well as the two lakes, Brienz and Thun. There is a viewing platform that you can stand on for a truly breathtaking experience. You don’t even have to worry about hiking up if you don’t want to (though you certainly can), there is a funicular that takes you to the top in just under 10 minutes. You are also able to go up top in the evening, and I believe there is a hotel located right above the restaurant if you would like to stay. 

We finished out the day at an indoor playground for the kids. Most of our travel is not necessarily based on our kids in terms of places we visit (maybe I’ll talk about different traveling styles in a blog post?), but we saw that there was a neat kids play park and we had a bit of time to kill between finishing up in the center of Interlaken and heading to dinner. So, we let the kids go a little wild and run off all the pent-up energy for a little while. They really enjoyed it and it was nice to be able to do something just for them on our trip. 

Our second day we decided to go over to Lauterbrunnen. It was a tough call as to whether we wanted to go to Grindelwald of Lauterbrunnen, you can’t really go wrong with either option, but I wanted to be able to see the waterfalls that Lauterbrunnen is known for. Honestly, I don’t think you could really go wrong with anywhere in this particular region, so explore it all if you can!

Lauterbrunnen as an area is first mentioned in the 13th century, with the name Lauterbrunnen being mentioned in the beginning of the 14th century. It has an early history of battles and rebellion between the villages and the Interlaken Monastery, ending in the 16th century. The villages that make up Lauterbrunnen were actually very poor. The area started out as a mining area, but all of the profits went to the noble families, and the working-class people remained below the poverty line. It got so bad at one point, that most villagers moved away, joining regiments and emigrating to the United States of America (settling in the Carolinas). At the end of the 18th century, Lauterbrunnen started to gain more traction when mount climbers would start expeditions in the town, and once the road was built from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen, tourism exploded. Lauterbrunnen has inspired many a writer and film maker (with Goethe and Tolkien both referencing it in their own works, and the 1969 On Her Majesties Secret Service being filmed in the city). 

Lauterbrunnen is really known for its waterfalls and mountain peaks. It is one of the largest nature conservation areas in Switzerland and easily one of the prettiest spots we’ve ever visited. The valley is home to 72 waterfalls, the largest being Staubbach Falls which are one of the highest free-falling waterfalls. Another set that you can visit up close are Trummelbach Falls, which are a natural waterfall phenomena situation behind the rock face. 

We started the morning off hiking through the valley to get to Trummelbach Falls. You are able to park right at the waterfalls if you’d like. HOWEVER, I would highly recommend parking in one of the bigger “in town” parking lots and then walking through the valley to the falls. It was an incredible semi sunrise hike (it definitely wasn’t sunrise, but the light still hadn’t reached in to the valley when we started walking) and you see so many more of the waterfalls this way, as well as get the chance to see some of the local cattle life and ranchers (we got to see a minutes old baby cow on our way back from the falls as well as buy local cheese from a little self-service booth). It’s all flat ground and we really loved being able to soak in all of the natural beauty. 

So, we started at our furthest out point, Trummelbach Falls.

Trummelbach Falls are the largest subterranean water falls in Europe and can carry up to 20,000 tons of meltwater from the glaciers of Jungfrau. They are incredibly loud (thundering loud), cause the mountain to almost tremble at the power, and are the most incredible thing mother nature does. If you’ve read my Garmisch-Partenkirchen post, you’ll recognize a pattern of water going through rocks makes me just swoon and feel overwhelmed with amazement, and Trummelbach Falls was no different. We were lucky with our timing as we were able to see all 10 chutes of the falls (at a total height of 200 meters), whereas during certain times of year you are only able to see the top chutes. They do not recommend this activity for younger children (in fact they don’t typically allow children under the age of 4 in) and I would be careful walking through the paths- it can get very slippery. 

From there, we walked back towards town with a stop at Staubbach Falls.

Staubbach Falls has a height of almost 300 meters (297 to be exact) and , in addition to being the highest in Europe, are the most famous of the waterfalls in Lauterbrunnen. The waterfall inspired Goethe’s poem, Song of the Spirits over the Waters and disperses water as if it were dust. You are able to climb a portion of the rockface to be “under” the waterfall; HOWEVER, I would not recommend this for young kids. I was the only one who went up the rockface and, once I reached the end, was glad my boys did not head up. It is a really cool experience though, and if you can, I would recommend it for adults.

The entire valley is one for the nature lovers and reminded us just how incredible the world around us really is. So much beauty and a place I’m glad we spent a whole day in. 

From the falls, we decided to head up the mountain towards Murren. From the base of Lauterbrunnen you are able to take a gondola up the mountain to Schilthorn, then either hike or board a train towards Murren. We chose the train (much to the boy’s excitement) and were treated to a narrow-gauge railway and breathtaking views.

Murren is a traditional mountain village at 1,638 meters above sea level. From Murren you are able to see Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau mountains around you. I think this is a great alternative, if you just want to get up in the mountains, but don’t necessarily want to do the Jungfraujoch. There is an element of “off the beaten path” and an actual look at what life is like up in the alps, even though during the summer this is one of the more popular alps spots.  

We finished out our day in Lauterbrunnen with a hot chocolate made in a local coffee shop before heading back to our hotel and our dinner reservation. 

And that wraps up our long weekend in Switzerland! Easily one of the most incredible places we’ve visited, and it definitely makes my top 4 places we’ve traveled. I’ve used a lot of words in this post (2319 at this point to be exact), but none really can come close to what this region was like.