March 31, 2014

Maggie Bags

I've wanted a Maggie Bag for, what seems like, absolutely forever! I can't even remember where I first heard of these unique bags, but I've stalked their Facebook page ever since.

Wait, you don't know what Maggie Bags are???!

Well, lemme tell ya.

They are purses, and wallets, and laptop bags (and more!) created from reclaimed seat belts. Yep, you read that right, seat belts. I love that reclaimed materials are used where possible. I also love the strength and durability of the product.

However, I don't completely love the price, even though the bag is totally worth it.

And that is exactly why I've never owned a Maggie Bag… until now! You see, I recently realized they have a clearance page I can afford. I can justify $50 or $60 to the Hubs, but there is no way I can get away with $200 for a purse. You know what I'm saying?

So when I saw that the Executive Laptop Bag was reduced from $120 to $58, I pounced on it.

Executive Laptop Bag

This bag is perfect for my blogging needs. It carries my laptop, iPad, cell phone, headphones, pens and paper, and more. The bag stands upright, with cute little feet on the bottom. I can carry cross-body or by the handle. And man, it is tough! I'm pretty sure I could drag it behind my car for a couple miles and it would still be intact. In basic black, I totally feel like I'm styling.

AND, Maggie Bags deliver to APO. When you're living overseas, this is a huge plus.

Interior pockets, with padded laptop divider
Metal "feet" to help the bag stand 

I am too excited not to share my happiness with you! The day my bag arrived in the mail was awesome for me. Perhaps I'll even be a better blogger now? At least, that's what I tell myself.

I'll be back soon, peeps. In the meantime, happy shopping! What are some of your favorite products?

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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March 29, 2014

PCS Issues: 16 Ways to Make New Friends

Whenever I move to a new place, I always wish I could pack my friends in a suitcase and carry them with me. But of course, that's not possible. As military spouses, we're making new friends every few years and always hoping that some of our old ones will be stationed with us again.

Some of the peeps I wish would be stationed near us again! 

I can't stand leaving people behind. Our bonds form fast, and they stick. Like superglue! Though we leave friends behind physically, I find the relationships last. In this electronic age, it's so easy to keep track of all your friends and family. Between phone calls, texts, Facebook, Skype… you only lose touch if you want to.

Of course, finding friends in your new place can often be difficult. But don't worry! Naturally, I'm here for you. If you're a loyal reader, you know I love my lists and you know I love giving out my ArmyLife tips.

True story.

SO, here goes nothing. I hope this helps you someday on your quest to meet new and interesting people.

1. Join your FRG - I totally know that lots of you won't want to do this. And that's ok! The FRG might not be for you. However, I put this at the top of the list because it's the easiest and fastest way to meet spouses in the unit. It's also the best supply of information you'll find (at least, it should be). Even if you don't find your new BFF here, at least you'll have some people to call in case of emergency, yes? Give it a chance, peeps.

2. Facebook - I know what you're thinking… say what?  But Facebook is actually a fabulous tool to find new people in your area. As always, be cautious. However use this tool and find the FB pages for all your local interests and army info. Join your post's ACS (Army Community Service) page. Find the spouses page(s) for your installation. Do this before your move. Not only do you get great information, but you may find spouses you have lots in common with. On our most recent PCS move, I met several great ladies before I even arrived. It's awesome to have a small support system in place before you even get to your new location, seriously.

3. Sign Up for ACS Classes/Trips - Since we were already talking about ACS above… sign up for some stuff, people! ACS nearly always offers a newcomers class, and this is a fantastic way to learn about your new area and to meet people. They often offer fun day trips too.

4. Meet Your Neighbors - Knock on the door, bring a plate of brownies, and say hey! Right after our move to Germany, I was lucky enough to meet most of my neighbors. Many of us arrived within days of each other, so we had that in common already. We bonded quickly, and BUNCO games and bbqs have ensued.
Our latest BUNCO game 

5. Join a Club - There are clubs everywhere which might pique your interest. Look for photo clubs, book clubs, sewing clubs. Anything you consider a hobby, I bet there's a group for it. Check the flyers on post and search social media. Check out the community pages for whatever your local town is. There is a ton of information out there, you only need look.

6. Outdoor Rec - I didn't actually discover outdoor recreation until we moved to Germany. But they are everywhere, on every post! Find their office at your location and see what cool trips they have to offer. So far, I went to Budapest with them, and I'm going to Bratislava this weekend. They always seem to have hiking and biking trips available, and tons of other outdoor activities as well.

7. Check Out Your Library - The library usually has all sorts of great programs available, everything from book clubs to reading hours. This is especially good if you have smaller children and wish to meet other parents. Here in Germany, our library also sponsors a "conversation club" to help us learn the language. It won't hurt to see what is available in your area.

8. Walk Your Dog - Or go to a dog park. I meet so many people through my Lucy! Everyone wants to pet her, or see her tricks. The kids all want to give her biscuits. A dog is an easy introduction to new people, especially if they have dogs themselves. Honestly, almost 75% of people I meet have been through our puppy.

My Lucy dog

9. Take a Class at the Gym - The gyms and pools on post offer so many classes. Try yoga, or zumba, or water aerobics. Get in there and meet people!

10. Spouse Clubs - every post has spouse clubs, in one form or another. Join the NCO Spouses club, or the Officer Spouses club. Attend their luncheons and outings. Strike up conversation, and see what you have in common.

11. Get Your Kids Involved - For those of you with children, there are endless avenues to meet other parents. Take your kid to the playground, join playdate groups, the PTA, Girl/Boy Scouts, etc. Chat with the other parents, get involved, volunteer. All these things help you meet new people, and feel less alone in your new town.

12.  Volunteer - There are volunteer opportunities no matter where you are, whether on post or off. Try ACS first to see what options are available on post. Volunteer at the schools, in church, at local nursing homes and hospitals. Volunteer for your FRG!

13. Church - If you're a person of faith, find a local church or group that meets your needs. Join in for bible studies, youth groups, and attend services. Like to sing? Join the choir!

14. Get a Job - I've made so many great friends at various jobs through the years. Look for work both on the economy and on post. If nothing is available, try being a consultant for companies like Pampered Chef, Lia Sofia, etc. If you already run a home-based business, get your name out there. Leave cards everywhere you go, and advertise on post (and installation FB pages!) if you can.

15. Network with Other Spouses - I guarantee someone you are already friends with knows people at your new duty station. The military is a small world, and we bump into each other everywhere. Let your existing friends hook you up with some of their existing friends. Spread the word among all your spouse pals and see who knows who. You'd be surprised how many people you know that also know each other.

16. DON'T BE AFRAID TO PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE! This is the most important suggestion of all. You can't be afraid to introduce yourself to someone knew, or to ask people if they want to get together sometime. Be bold, my friends, be bold.

What are your suggestions for meeting new friends? Feel free to comment below. Until next time, happy hunting (friend hunting, that is)!

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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March 27, 2014

An American in London, Part 1

A while back (aka, January), I went to London for a girls weekend. I totally would have gone with the Hubs, but he was working of course. And I've wanted to visit this awesome city for as long as I can remember. And, I plan to go back with the Hubs eventually so we can attend the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Harry Potter...

Yeah, I'm justifying this a smidge. But what's done is done, and now I can tell you all about it!

Outside Kings Cross Station

We found our flights online at a great rate through RyanAir. You can definitely get some amazing deals through their website, but you've got to book early. They don't fly into the major airport at Heathrow, instead landing at London Stansted. This is about an hour (or two in traffic) outside the city. There are lots of options for travel into London, including trains, buses, and private cars. Because we were a larger group of 8, we rode in on the Stansted Express. Purchasing our roundtrip tickets online prior to the trip got us a great rate which wouldn't have been available at the airport.

The view flying into the airport reminded
me so much of Ireland

This is what I learned in London:

1. The British pound seriously holds its value over the dollar. And the euro. So expect everything to be practically twice as expensive.

2. The accent is as marvelous as it seems. The Hubs is lucky I love him so dang much, or I could easily promise my life away to someone new.

3. New York is still my favorite place ever, but London is such a close second it's hard to tell the difference.

4. The bathroom is a loo, the elevator is the lift, and I love using the word bloody as often as possible now.

5. Royalty is not simply wandering the streets, waiting for me to snap their picture. Total fail.

6. Mind the gap, people. Seriously.

I learned a load of other things too, but that's enough for now. Let's get back on track, shall we?

After checking into our hotel (for those who care, it was the Tune Hotel in Paddington. Relatively inexpensive, clean, and convenient to the underground), we made a beeline for our scheduled Jack the Ripper tour. Boo-Dah-Washy found the tour and booked us online. And I totally don't know what the link is for the tour, whoops. I'm sure you can find a dozen of them with Google. Probably.

View from one of the Jack-the-Ripper
murder scenes 

The tour wound through the back streets of London, with a guide who described each murder and the circumstances surrounding it. We also happened upon the memorial where William Wallace (haven't you seen Braveheart??) was put to death.

The tour was several hours long, and eventually landed us at the well-known Sherlock Holmes Pub. By this time, we were all starving. Though it doesn't look like much, I had the Steak and Mushroom Ale Pie and it was bloody fantastic! Do you like how I snuck that in there?

From there, we wandered slowly back toward our hotel, taking in the sights as we went. I especially loved seeing all the monuments lit up at night.

Big Ben

The London Eye

Darkness falls on the Thames

I was excited for the next morning, when we would start our first full day in London with breakfast and a walking tour. I'll be back soon with the details, and plenty of pictures!

Until then, happy travels!

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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March 26, 2014


Do any of y'all know what BUNCO is? Because I totally didn't.

Yes, I'm serious.

I was a BUNCO virgin. Until, my new neighbor and hairdresser (nickname = Boo-Dah-Washy, adopted at Dietfurt's Chinese Fasching) started a BUNCO group in our neighborhood and invited me to join. And I must say, I loves it! This is a great opportunity to get together with friends and neighbors, share food and drink, and have a great time. Also, it's fun to win stuff. Am I right?

We start with a riotous game of LRC. If you've never played before, you totally should. We play for money, which makes things even more interesting. Though we do have one person (you know who you are!) who's won ⅔ of the games so far.

I think she cheats. Or is magic.

LRC winners

Everyone brings a dish or an adult beverage of choice. I love trying all the new things people bring, and I enjoy getting all their recipes, of course. So far, I've brought my chocolate chip cookies, taco crack, and NY crumb cake. Any suggestions for my next dish?

After the frivolity, BUNCO begins. I won't bore you to death with the rules, but know that it is fun. Especially with a larger group. Our hostess creates a theme each time. So far, I've played in my pajamas, partied for Mardi Gras, and wore green for Saint Paddy's Day.

Saint Paddy's Day BUNCO

We get cash prizes for this game too! We're such gamblers.

I have the best time playfully competing with my other neighbor, Deborah (nickname to come). Usually we're competing for biggest loser… someday I hope to actually win at BUNCO, but I'm pretty sure that day is far off.

By the end of the night, we're happy, full, and tired. Getting together with all the ladies is a great highlight of my month, and an awesome opportunity to get out of the house for a while. What do you and your gal pals do for fun? I bet now you want to try BUNCO, right??

Until next time, peeps. Happy gaming!

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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March 24, 2014

Oil Pulling, Part 2

About 10 days ago, I started my new adventure of oil pulling. I promised to keep you updated, so here I am!

Every morning I wake up, and start my day with oil pulling. At first, this was rather disgusting. Because I'm using coconut oil, it was solid at room temperature. This sensation of solid goop wasn't pleasant, but the oil quickly melts after being swished around for just a minute.

As you know (having read my first post, of course!), I wasn't able to do the full 20 minutes in the beginning. Now however, I've got this! By day four, I could do the entire 20 minutes of swishing with no problem. I still feel a little queasy when I spit the oil out (after my 20 minutes), but it's getting better.

If you're attempting oil pulling yourself, I suggest finding a task to complete while you're swishing. I've been cleaning my kitchen every morning. This works for me, I hardly notice the swishing now. I am having issues with clenching my jaw a little too tight, but I think that's just me. I grind my teeth at night too, ha. When I notice the tension, I simply relax my jaw a bit and everything is fine.

The first few days of pulling, I didn't notice much difference in myself except for a clean feeling in my mouth when finihsed. After 10 days, I've noticed quite a bit more. For example, I definitely have more energy! I noticed this side effect just a few days ago, and I'm extremely excited about it. As someone with an autoimmune disorder, I pretty much walk around tired all the time. I'm not sure if the oil pulling is boosting me or if this is psychosomatic, but I'm happy to take advantage of the benefit either way.

I've also noticed some changes in my sleep pattern. I often have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. I guess I'm a bit of an insomniac. Again, in the past few days, I am most definitely sleeping better and feeling well-rested when I awaken.

Now that I've gotten past the icky feeling of putting oil in my mouth every day, I'm loving the changes I feel. Over the remaining 20 days of my challenge, I'll keep you updated! I'm tracking a few other supposed benefits, so we'll see if they're true or not.

Until next time, peeps!

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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March 23, 2014

Accidentally Defrosted

Man, it's been one of those weeks! After returning from Venice last week (I promise a post will be up soon!), it seemed like everything fell apart in my absence. The laundry is piled up, the pantry is empty, and my schedule is already full.

Sometimes you just need a day of nothing, ya know? And I thought I would have one a few days ago… except the Hubs accidentally left our freezer door open all night long.

Do you know what happens when your freezer is left open all night long???

A big, goopy, drippy, disgusting mess.

Hubs hangs his head in shame! 

Needless to say, I didn't quite get my day of rest. Instead, I spent the day scrubbing my freezer and searching for anything salvageable. There wasn't much.

That day turned out to be a mess, but these things happen. Sometimes we all leave the freezer door open, am I right? It's how we handle those days that makes us who are. Granted, I fussed at the Hubs pretty good. I wondered where he left his brain, quite vocally. Then we kissed, made up, and realized that we might have melted a lot of groceries, BUT at least we get to share these ups and downs together.

Plus, the Hubs agreed to clean my kitchen today, and do a little vacuuming. This goes a long way to forgiveness in my book!

How did your week go? I hope no one left your freezer door open, but if they did, I hope you've kissed and made up too.

I'll be back soon, peeps!

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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March 21, 2014

New York Style Crumb Cake

One of my absolute favorite things ever is Entenmann's crumb cake. I was completely devastated when Hubs and I moved to Fort Bliss, and no one there sold it! 

Depression quickly ensued. Not only did no one sell it, but Entenmann's doesn't deliver. What's a girl to do???

Each time we move to a new duty station, there are things I'm glad are gone and there are so many things I miss. At least when it comes to food, I have options. Rather than pout about the unfairness of army life, I have learned to make so many things for myself. Remember my Zuppa Toscana imitation? It's so good, better than the original even. I was absolutely positive I could re-create my favorite coffee cake too.

And I did.

NY Crumb Cake

This crumb cake is genius, if I do say so myself. And I do!

The recipe has been through several incarnations, but I've finally got it just right. Now I can share it with you. If you've never tried crumb cake, let me tell ya…. it is buttery, yummy, delicious goodness. Especially served with a cup of coffee or tea.

Ready for the recipe? Here goes:

You'll start by making the crumb topping.

Ingredients for crumb topping

Mix together ⅓ cup of white sugar, ⅓ cup of dark brown sugar, ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, and ⅛ teaspoon  salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl.  To this, add 1 stick (8 tablespoons) of melted, unsalted butter. You want the butter to still be a bit warm. Mix until combined, then stir in 1 ¾ cups of cake flour.


Please don't use regular, all-purpose flour. I promise your cake will not taste the same. It won't even be close! Cake flour has a much finer consistency that improves the texture and crumb-factor of your cake. It also doesn't rise as much as all-purpose, which is a bonus in this case. Listen to ArmyLife.

Back to the recipe, mix until your dough is thick and cohesive. Set the bowl aside to cool to room temperature. The crumb will be ready once you've finished mixing the batter.

Process for making crumb topping,
from upper left to lower right 

Next, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 9x9 baking pan with a spray that includes flour, OR butter and flour the pan. Start your batter by mixing together 1 ¼ cups cake flour, ½ cup sugar, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, and ¼ teaspoon salt.

Ingredients for batter

To this, add 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter which has been softened and cut into chunks. Cut this into your mixture using a pastry cutter. Once blended, there should be no visible chunks of butter and your batter will resemble coarse, pea-sized crumbs.

Butter cut into the flour mix

Blend in 1 whole egg and 1 egg white, along with 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract, and ⅓ cup buttermilk. I use my hand mixer for this, I think it makes the cake light and fluffy. (Side note: For a different flavor, try using almond extract instead!)

Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan and smooth into a nice, even layer. Now, return to the crumb topping you mixed earlier. You have two choices for crumbling the batter:

           1. Use a fork to break up the pieces, then pour on top of the cake batter. OR…
           2. Use your hands to smoosh the dough into a solid piece, then break off both larger and smaller chunks to top the batter with.

I generally go for option two. I like getting my hands in there and I love the size combination of chunks, from tiny to gigantic. Totally up to you, peeps. Pick your favorite.

Top: Batter
Bottom: Crumb topping
There's no need to press the crumb into the batter. As the cake cooks, it will rise around the crumb, so no smooshing, ok?

Bake around 30-40 minutes, until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for another 30-40 minutes.

THEN (this is the best part), cover the WHOLE THING with as much powdered sugar as you can stand. I like a lot. Don't skimp here, I promise you'll regret it.

And there you have it, NY Crumb Cake!

Slice the cake into good sized pieces, brew a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy. This is a great way to start your Saturday morning.

I'll be back again soon, my friends. But until then, happy cooking! As always, the standard recipe is below.

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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The Standard Form:

NY Style Crumb Coffee Cake


For the crumb topping:
⅓ cup sugar
⅓ cup dark brown sugar, packed
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1 ¾ cup cake flour (do NOT use all-purpose)
For the cake batter:
1 ¼ cups cake flour (no substitutes!)
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 egg white
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
⅓ cup buttermilk (can substitute plain yogurt, but buttermilk is best!)
Powdered sugar


Make the topping first. Combine the sugars, cinnamon, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the melted butter. Stir in the cake flour, until the dough is thick and cohesive. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. It should be ready by the time you are done mixing the cake batter.

Make the cake batter next. Start by preheating the oven to 325 degrees, Spray a 9×9 baking pan with baking spray (or grease and flour the pan) and set aside. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter, until it resembles coarse peas with no visible chunks of butter remaining. Add the egg, egg white, vanilla, and the buttermilk. Beat with a hand mixer on medium-high speed until the batter if light and fluffy. Pour the batter into the cake pan and smooth into a nice, even layer.

Go back to the crumb topping. Use a fork to help crumble it into pea-sized pieces, if desired. I like to use my hands to smoosh it together and break off larger chunks. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the cake batter, covering it completely.

Bake cake until golden, about 30-40 minutes. A toothpick inserted in center should come out clean, indicating doneness.  Cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Generously dust the cake with powdered sugar before slicing and serving.

March 20, 2014

Mary Kay Brunch

Yesterday, I attended a fun little brunch with some of my neighborhood gals (and a few out of the neighborhood ones too!). Jen the Baker was hosting us all for a Mary Kay event.

Now, I've never been one to have, or even go to, these kind of parties. But I gotta admit, we had so much fun!

Jen cooked an amazing spread for us, including muffins, a frittata-style egg bake, fruit tray, and coffee service. Her coffee set is so beautiful, I love drinking out of the delicate cups. I contributed with my favorite NY-style crumb cake and a cheesy potato bake (keep an eye out for the cake recipe tomorrow!).

Our consultant was one of my favorite people, who also runs Freedom Birds Jewelry. If you haven't yet checked out her work, what are you waiting for??

Everyone had their own place at the table, complete with mirror and makeup tray. As Courtney guided us, we all had a mini-facial using the supplied products. Then, our skin was color-matched before applying foundation and eye make-up. And lip masque, and colors!

I loved the SatinLips line. In fact, that's the product I wound up purchasing. Everyone loves soft lips, right?

I thought this was such a fun idea for a girls' day. Food, makeup, coffee, and good friends = a great, relaxing day for all involved.

Good job, Jen the Baker! Your party kicked serious booty. Since we started at 11, and I didn't leave for home until after 5, I must have been having fun!

What are your favorite ways to spend your girls-only time? Feel free to comment below!

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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March 18, 2014

Bargain Shopping - Crystal & China

From Hohenfels, there are lots of day trips to interesting locations… including some great shopping destinations! About an hour away are two factory outlets, one for crystal and one for china. And I've spent money liberally at both.

Every Friday, Nachtmann Crystal in Neustadt opens their warehouse for your perusal. The main shop is open all week, but the real deals are on Friday. To the left of the regular shop is a gate… walk past and through this gate, and you'll find the entrance to the warehouse on your left.

Warehouse entrance

Inside, there are rows and rows of crystal, from various manufacturers the world over. Nachtmann crystal, of course, but also Waterford, Wedgewood, and more.

Inside the crystal warehouse
I've found some great deals here! Crystal vases as low as 4 euro each, wine glass sets for 12 euro! There are platters and mugs, vases and bowls, glasses and decorative pieces… I could go on and on. The inventory seems to change every few months, based on what is available. Some of the pieces are simply overstock which are being sold at a reduced rate. Some of the pieces show flaws, and are reduced for that reason. Check your pieces carefully, and then enjoy this great shopping experience.

The GPS address for the factory is:

Zacharies-Frank-Strasse #7
92660 Neustadt a.d. Waldnaab

There is a parking lot on your right-hand side as you arrive which you can use during your trip.

If you're making a day of it, I also suggest stopping at the Seltmann china factory store. They have some truly beautiful china sets here, including the Bavarian pattern. Part of the store is arranged like a showroom, and the other side contains the reduced/discounted pieces. Many of the reduced pieces were standard white china, but other patterns were mixed in.

Seltmann showroom area

Discounted section can be seen on left

We had a hard time finding the address on our trip, so here it is for you!

Christian Seltmann Strasse 59-67
92637 Weiden

Look for the blue flags, they show the entrance to the parking lot (at least, they were there on our visit). I found an amazing pattern I really, really want to purchase. I'm thinking I'll be able to convince the Hubs before we leave Germany…

What do you think? I loves it! 

I also found a cool, wonky blue/green vase thingy (don't you just love my descriptions, haha). I actually bought this, for my upcoming Beachy Bedroom Makeover! I've had so many ideas for re-decorating our bedroom, but I've almost narrowed them down. No worries, I'll be taking you on the journey with me.

 I'll be back again soon, but I hope these tips help out some of my fellow spouses living here in Germany. Until next time, happy shopping, my friends!

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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March 15, 2014

Oil Pulling, Part 1

Over the last several years, I've become much more focused on my health. Specifically, on what goes into my food, and what my body might be absorbing. These changes are difficult to make all at once. I'm sure you know what I mean! It's hard enough to keep a New Years resolution, much less a huge lifestyle change.

So, I decided to pick one thing at a time, and change that. Once I've mastered the mini-goal, I move on to the next one. Hopefully, all these mini-goals will add up to make a big difference. 

If you follow my Facebook page (if you're not, you totally should!), you know I started some smaller goals when the Hubs was deployed. I take my vitamins everyday, after I did some careful research on which ones will make a difference for me. I actually get the most benefit from coconut oil, which isn't technically a vitamin, but I take it nonetheless. If you're looking for a great company to get vitamins and supplements from, check out Swanson Vitamins, I love their site. 

Of course, I've also been walking my dog everyday (though I've slipped occasionally there), and reading my devotions everyday, among a whole host of other things. I even started making my own brown sugar scrub, which I LOVE.

Brown Sugar Scrub

My new goal is to try oil pulling for 30 days. If I find it benefits me, then I'll continue the practice indefinitely.

What exactly is oil pulling? I know you're wondering. 

From what I understand, oil pulling originated in India, and has been practiced for a super long time. I know that's not very scientific of me, but I'm just starting to learn about this technique. Supposedly, the oil pulls toxins and bacteria from the mouth, which are then spit out. This can improve such conditions as bad breath, bleeding gums, insomnia, migraines, acne and other skin conditions, ulcers and stomach conditions, nerve diseases, and arthritis. AND, this is supposed to be a natural teeth whitener as well. 

Your oil choice makes a difference, with most articles recommending either sunflower or sesame oil, with an option for coconut oil. 

Because I always have unrefined coconut oil on hand, this is what I'm using in my experiment. I began with a tablespoon of oil. If you've used coconut oil before, you know that it's a solid consistency at room temperature. Placing that in my mouth was a little scary, but after the first few seconds, the coconut oil responds to the heat in your mouth and melts.  

And then you just swish, swish, swish! You should do this for 20 minutes, but I'm finding it difficult. On day one, I only managed 5 minutes. Today was day two, and I swished a little more than 10. I'm building up to that 20 minute mark. 

I haven't noticed an appreciable difference yet, though my mouth does feel clean after the swishing. Upon spitting out the oil, I rinse very well with water and then move on with my regular morning routine. Quick Tip: If you're using coconut oil like me, don't spit it into your sink because the oil will solidify again in your pipes and clog them up. Spit into the trash instead. 

I'll let you know how the rest of this experiment goes! Have any of you tried oil pulling? Has it worked for you? Please comment and tell me about your experiences. 

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March 12, 2014

Velburg Fasching Parade 2013

A few days ago, I told you all about Dietfurt's Chinese Fashing.

So, you get the gist of what this celebration is, yes? We all eat, and drink, and party until Lent comes along… and then we get our act together. Velburg's Fasching parade is no different, though we were without the Chinese influence. I like the small town feel of these parades, though next year I might try a bigger city.

I especially like the fact that I can walk home in Velburg. This has its advantages.

The afternoon of the parade, people could be seen wandering into town, and parking became scarce in our little village.

People line the streets, waiting for the parade

This parade was not as crowded as Dietfurt, but that doesn't mean we didn't have just as much fun. In fact, if you're a little leery of crowds or have smaller children, then this might be the right celebration for you. Almost all of our neighbors were there, and a lot of them dressed for the occasion.

Our neighbors dressed for Fasching

The party began with a band, and this funny "detour" sign:

Many of our parade walkers joined the crowd in drinking… while still in the parade!

All of the floats had cup holders for the participants, and they definitely weren't holding apple juice…

As with other parades, candy and popcorn were passed around. Along with mixed drinks and mini bottles of alcohol.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Germans know how to have a good time. Pretty sure my facial expression matched this guy's:

The parade held the usual cast of characters, along with a few fun surprises. These Angry Birds used their slingshot to fling treats into the crowd:

This dude was a wee bit scary:

Even Santa made a visit!

The party was great! After, as we headed home for the night, I snuck a quick peek behind me…

I feel kinda bad for whoever had to clean that mess in the morning, but you can definitely tell that a good time was had by all!

I'll be back soon peeps, with tales from my trip to Venice this week. Do any of you have recommendations of sights to see?

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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March 11, 2014

Hiatus in Venice

Today, I leave on a great adventure to Venice, Italy! I am so excited to visit this city, it's been on my bucket list for a very long time. I'm traveling with my friend Becky. We've had many adventures together, and I know we're going to enjoy this one as well.

Becky and I in Ireland, 2012

I won't be doing as many posts here on the blog while I'm gone, but I did prepare a few things for you that will post as scheduled. You can also keep up with me via my Facebook page. I'll try to post some up-to-the-moment pictures of Venice when I can. I know the bed and breakfast we're staying at has wifi available, and I'm sure we'll find a connection at local cafes as well.

I'll see you on the flip side, my friends!

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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