November 23, 2014

Chicken and Red Onion Skewers

This has got to be one of the easiest, quickest, and surprisingly tasty grilled recipes ever.
3 Chicken Breasts (cut into large chunks)
Red Onion
That right folks, only 3 ingredients!  Told ya it was gonna be easy;)
Sweet chili sauce (optional if you want a little zing to your chicken)
*Skewers and a zip lock bag

The first step of this recipe is to cut your chicken breasts into desired sizes for skewering.  Make sure they are not too thick so that they can be grilled faster and thoroughly (no one wants salmonella at a cookout).  Put those chicken chunks into a gallon zip lock baggie and pour approximately 1 cup of Ranch dressing into the baggie with the chicken.  I added a little bit of sweet chili cause, about a Tablespoon, to my baggie along with the Ranch dressing for a little kit.  I have 2 kiddos and the kick of the sweet chili sauce was not too much for them and it was nice and zesty.
Here is where you have an option of marinating the chicken or not.  On those weeknights that you do not have time, no marinating is required for this chicken to be delicious.  However, I marinated mine for about 2 hours once and the chicken was extra yummy and moist.
After you put the chicken chunks, Ranch dressing, and sweet chili sauce into your zip lock baggie-make sure it is sealed really well.  Then shake and roll!  If you have little ones, they might have fun getting all that chicken coated with the Ranch mixture.  In the meantime cut a red onion into large chunks (not slices-you need some onion bulk to actually skewer).
Once the chicken is coated, stab the chicken onto a skewer.  Then add a large chunk of red onion and then a piece of bacon.  For the bacon, I used those wonderful precooked bacon slices you can get in the refrigeration isle at your grocery store.  They are already cooked and all you have to do is cut each slice in half for the skewering.  The grill does all the rest for you.  Fold a piece of bacon, that has been cut in half, like an accordion to really get good onto the skewer.
I used metal skewers.  If you use bamboo skewers, make sure to soak them in water prior to adding your ingredients to prevent the skewers from burning.

So, chicken->red onion->bacon.....and....repeat.  Then grill those puppies up and that's IT!!!!
I paired mine with sliced potatoes coated with extra virgin olive oil and garlic salt that I grilled as well. 

November 09, 2014


This castle is about as gorgeous as it gets...a great picture, even on a cloudy day, with it being stationed on top of a mountain in Luxembourg.
Vianden itself is a gorgeous little village.  Just a short 45 minutes drive from Spangdahlem AFB, Germany.
This castle has so much to look at on the inside and outside.  There are lots of items on display, including knights armor, weapons, tapestries, etc.  My kiddos are 6 and 4 and their attention was held the entire time. 
Yes, this castle is in another country but it is such a short easy drive that takes less than an hour.  Make sure to take your passports and international drivers license, just in case.  The only way we knew we were driving into another country was that we saw on the side of the road a sign that said 'Luxemburg' and looked like the country's flag. There is no 'border patrol' or stamping of your passport once you cross over.  Once over the Luxembourg border, drive about 20 minutes through Vianden and you will see the castle. 
Our view from the parking lot-notice the little parking meter to the left beside the street lantern.
Once you arrive at the bottom of the castle hill, also known as Chateau  De Vianden, there is a large parking lot.  We arrived around 10 o'clock in the morning and had plenty of spots to choose from.  There is a small meter at the entrance of the parking lot where you pay a small fee to park, however when we went it was out of order and the locals told us to not worry about it (so parking was free for us that day;).  
The pathway up to the castle.
Once parked, walk up the pathway to the top of the hill.  This is a not too steep, 5 minute walk.  Once at the entrance of the castle, walk through a black rod iron gate.  There is a little window on your right that you go to in order to pay to enter the premises.  I believe we paid about 20 euro or less for 2 adults and 2 children to enter.
You can also obtain a little recorder that looks like a large walky talky for rent for 2 euro.  This recorder can be taken with you throughout the castle and tells you in English about certain areas within the castle. 
For example:  A glass display containing knights armor will be labeled #5.  You push the #5 button on your recorder and it describes to you in English information about the armor. 

To go through the entire castle and its grounds be prepared to spend at least 2 hours (which go by quickly).
(if you are a Patrick Swayze fan be sure to check out one of the large rooms with pictures of movie stars and dignitaries that have visited, including an autographed picture of Mr. Swayze from a movie he filmed on the castle premises):) There are lots of rooms and lots of stairs so if you have a little one be prepared to carry them up and down a lot.  This is not a stroller friendly site seeing adventure.  
Just one of the many steep flights of stairs.

They have the history of the castle, including destruction and rebuilding on display.
There are public restrooms within the castle that are large and clean and FREE.
This is one of my favorite castles due to all the sites inside and out that are available.
In the village of Vianden there are little restaurants and souvenir shops to go to as well within walking distance of the castle.  Most of the shops were very affordable and had something a little different in each one.  We found lots of fun souvenirs for when my mom came with us such as purses that said 'luxembourg' on them, magnets, t-shirts, mugs, Christmas ornaments, small toys for the kids, candy, etc.  

All in all this is a great day trip that is enjoyable for all.  You can visit a great website for the castle here. 
*This castle is open year round, so check the website for the rare holidays that it is closed.  Most castles close during the winter, so this is a great one to see anytime of year.

February 08, 2014

Himmerod Abbey

Another short and sweet, yet gorgeous afternoon outing is Himmerod Abbey.
Located in Himmerod village this is just a quick 20 minute drive from Spangdahlem AFB.  DO NOT forget your camera for this outing folks.  The architecture is gorgeous here.

We went on a cloudy afternoon during a weekday this summer and it was great!
The kids got to walk around and run in a few fields as well as play on a small play area on the grounds. 

My kiddos (6 and 4 years old) had a blast looking around and as long as little ones mind their P's and Q's and don't run around is a working monastery after all, they are welcome to explore the grounds.  


January 18, 2014

Wallenborn Geyser and Honey shop

If you are looking for a simple and low key 
little afternoon trip, then this is the one for you.
Kids will especially enjoy this one!
About 30 minutes from Spangdahlem AFB is a little village called Wallenborn.
Within this village are 2 small attractions:  the first is a little honey shop.  Kids can sample about 15 different flavors of honey.  The store is family and locally owned.  It has things like jars of honey, beeswax candles, gift baskets, honey jams, lotions, etc.  All are great gifts to send back home or small gifts for friends.  The address is:  Neue Strasse 3, 54570
Their Website is here.
The village is super small that you drive through.  On the last road of your trip you'll see a little shack on your right and then a couple hundred feet farther you'll see the honey shop.  It is a small shop attached to a warehouse like house on your left and there is some Bee decorations and such in the shop window.
If you have a 'panther paws' book (if you are stationed on Spangdahlem AFB you'll know what this is) then it describes that you can take a tour of the bee grounds and see how honey is made.  This, however, was definitely not true for us.  When we went, no one was available to show us around but they let us go freely on our own to the backyard area where they had bees kept and also a small bee house. 

I checked out the back first before bringing my kids back there and I'm glad I did.  There were bees swarming everywhere!  So, a note to those who go...just visit the awesome bee shop.

As I said before on your way to the bee shop there will be a small shack on the right.  This is where you go to see the geyser.  The is a natural cold water geyser.
This is the view from the bee shop to the geyser.  If you look on the left you can see a few cars and a tiny looking 'log cabin' looking shack where the tickets are sold.
You pay 1 euro per person to an attendant in the little shack/house and they give you a ticket and an information pamphlet on the geyser.  There are benches available to sit while you wait for the geyser's eruption.  The geyser erupts about every 30 minutes. 
There is tree cover around the benches for shade on a hot day and it's fun to sit with anticipation for the eruption.  If you have kids it’s a great little experience.  (however, there are no bathrooms anywhere for little ones-just FYI) 
We watched the geyser erupt 3 times.  In between the eruptions we played at a park down the street.  If you are at the geyser you can see it from the benches and it's about a 1 minutes walk up the street.  It's kind of primitive but they have an awesome swing zip line that makes waiting for the next geyser eruption fly by. 

January 12, 2014

Manderscheid Castle

If you are looking for great site seeing close to Spangdahlem Air Force base, we have found a great castle about 30 minutes from base.  It's called the Manderscheid castle. 
This castle was built in 1427 and is gorgeous!  It's very affordable and children under 6 are free.  Each adult is 2 euro, and children 6 and over are 0,70 euro.  It's family friendly with beverages for purchase at the entrance with a little gift shop and bathrooms.  You may also buy an English brochure on the castle for 0,50 euro. 

This castle sits beside a smaller castle that you can also visit, so it's a 2 for 1!

At the end of August there is supposed to be a huge medieval festival with games, food, and crafts and jousting shows, etc.  Also, there is a huge fireworks display on the Saturday night of the festival. This year it is on august 24th and 25th, 2013.

Here is their website

The castle is great to explore and my 3 year old was able to climb everywhere we wanted to go with some assistance.  It's not great for strollers and is better for older children or infants you can carry during the visit.  It takes at least 2 hours to walk around to every area of the main castle to appreciate the beauty of it all.

It's a great site to see and will be one to take visiting family to as well.  It's cheap, close, and really beautiful!

Type in your GPS Manderscheid (zip- 54531)  Grafenstrasse 23 to find the castle

Here is a link from mapquest from Spangdahlem AFB to the castle


If you have little ones and are looking for something  phenomenal to do indoors, and gets your kids energy out- then Landal is the place to go.

Landal is a resort area that has cabins, camping, restaurants, pools (indoor and outdoor), etc.  BUT, if you just want a 45 minute drive to do something fun for the day or half a day, Landal is a great choice.

Yes, folks-FREE.  Just show your military ID before entering into the play area.
(update Dec. 2016-they now charge a small fee, even with your military ID.  It is 3 euro per child)

This place is really great!  they have a padded play area on the floor that is enclosed by these soft wall blocks for crawlers and babies (you can see it in the bottom of the above picture).
But the great part is the castle like play area.  I have a 6 and 4 year old and they are both able to do all of it. I've even worked up a sweat playing and climbing with my kiddos myself. It's big enough for adults to go in and have a little fun with their kiddos.
They have air hockey and some other games that cost 1-2 euro, but the actual play equipment is free.  there is a trampoline that you can pay for's around 2 euro for 3 minutes or so.
This play area is  massive and so much fun!

There is a little snack shack and really nice seating area for the adults to sit and what I like about it (confession of an overprotective mom) is that from almost anywhere in the seating area you can sip a cappuccino and see your kids almost anywhere they are in the entire play area.  It's clean and nicely open and cutely decorated.  (and the bathrooms are clean and FREE)

My kids and I ate lunch there and it cost about 30 euro...but was really nice.  You cannot bring your own food in, so be prepared to buy something to munch on.
When you drive there it feels like you are not supposed to be there at drive though a resort area and through narrow, curvy roads.  Once at the top, after driving through some of the resort (passing the outdoor water park area) you will find a really nice the back of that restaurant is where you'll find the play area.  I know that sounds crazy, but the back of the restaurant opens up to this huge play area.
Outside the restaurant is a trampoline like 'bubble' on the ground for kids to jump on and a little wooden water splash zone (only operational in the summer-it's just enough for the kids to splash their hands around in and have fun with a bucket and little wooden water bridges and such)

Here is the link:  Landal

If you are at spangdahlem, the playground that is featured is the one in Sonnenberg (it's the closest).  The address is:

Landal Sonneberg 
Sonneberg 1 
54340 Leiwen 
Tel: +49 (0) 6507-936 90 

GPS coordinates

49 ° 48 '12.5'' N 
6 ° 53 '30.4'' E

Monday to Friday 9:00 - 21.00 clock 
Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10:00 - 15.00 clock

Phone #:  01806 - 700 730
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