Friday, June 19, 2015

Things I Love About Germany Part 2

Let me again start with my little nonsensical important disclaimer here: These are my opinions about the area of Germany I've lived in for the past year. As with anywhere, not everyone fits into these opinions or stereotypes. People are people anywhere you go. We are all different and experience things different ways.

Things I Love About Germany Part Zwei (2)

This first bullet point is a big one for me. Sooooo prepare to read a lot about it. :)

*People are more laid back about appearances in Germany. It's refreshing to see so much less makeup and obsession with looking sexy and all glammed up all the dang time. Sure, sure, we have makeup here and nice body care products and all that jazz. It's just much less of a big deal. The most made up ladies you see are the teenagers and college ladies who are experimenting with their look. Other than that, the majority of people are sporting a totally makeup free face, or going for a very natural look.

It is incredibly freeing and comfortable to walk around and see people dressed casually and modestly, but still nice. The dress is much more modest than in the States. Call me a prude, but I don't think you should be showing it all off to everyone on the streets all the darn time. It's rare to see it all "hanging out" here...let your mind figure that one out, as it applies to lots of different scenarios with the way people dress. These people like their clothes, no doubt about it. But their sole mission isn't to dress to show off every body part. It's more about being classy, professional, comfortable, casual, and looking nice in a more subtle way. I like that. I like it a lot. (Did you read that last sentence with a 'Forest Gump' accent? If not, then you're doing it wrong.)

A natural result of a society generally less obsessed with this is that people (in general) are MUCH less judgemental to each other. Sure, you get checked out by other ladies to see what you're wearing, there are beauty shops and hair salons and all kinds of shops everywhere, but people don't make as big of a deal about it. Being overly made up is not a big normal here. It looks out of place.

I am borrowing this photo from a website, but it is very similar to what you see at train stations, shopping areas, large businesses or work places. Bikes everywhere. :)

*Fitness/Healthier Lifestyle- Most Germans walk and bike everywhere they can. We've met so many people who have a car, but rarely use it. It's true that their country is set up to make biking and walking to places much more convenient than in the States, but in general, their attitude about health and fitness and being outside is really wonderful. There is less priority with being in the gym all day, pumping iron and taking supplements, and more on just walking outside with the family, going to the park, walking to a festival or concert, biking to the supermarket, etc. It's a normal part of life, being outdoors and being active. (Yes,  I've complained about walking to the supermarket and walking home with heavy grocery bags. I in no way renounce that complaint. That is HARD hard hard...especially on someone with neck/shoulder/back issues!) Living here reminds me of my and adults are outside all the time. Just relaxing, strolling, playing, reading. Germans eat a lot of bread and meat and potatoes and such, but it's rare to see obesity here, due to such an active lifestyle. (And smaller portion sizes.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Things I love about Germany Part 1

I've been living in Deutschland for 10 months now. I've experienced so many amazing foods, places, festivals and more. I've met some incredible people from all over the globe. I want to share some of my very favorite things about living in Germany.

Disclaimer: My thoughts and opinions are mine alone. These opinions and insights are from my personal experiences living in the South Hessen area. Many areas of Germany, like anywhere else in the world, are very different culturally and may be nothing like the South Hessen area.

Fave Things About Germany:
Part Eins (1)

*Parks, parks everywhere!
- No joke; there are parks EVERYWHERE here. Beautiful green parks with walking and biking paths, ponds and ducks, amazing playgrounds for kids, soccer fields, picnic areas, huge green grassy lawns for lounging on a blanket and reading in the warm sun, benches GALORE to sit on and enjoy the scenery, gardens full of beautiful plants, flowers and sculptures, and more. And people are serious about parks here. Parks are used all the time. There are always people at the park. Relaxing, snacking or napping on blankets, sitting on benches, listening to music, reading books, strolling hand in hand on the paths eating Eis (ice cream), kids running through the grass playing with balls and toys, or frequenting the extremely well built and maintained playground areas, zip lining over a sand pit, scooting on their bikes and more. I'm going to interject this tidbit: Kids here usually have NO training wheels on their bikes, even 2 year olds! They use their feet to propel themselves on the ground and learn quickly how to balance on a bike. Children start doing this at 1 1/2 to 2 years old!


Prinz Georg Garten

*How Safe I Feel Here

-This part of Germany is so safe. I'm not saying bad things don't ever happen, but violent crime is much lower here than in the U.S.  In my 10+ months here, I have never once felt unsafe while walking by myself, riding the bus, trams or trains, strolling through the park, etc. In the U.S.,  I'd frequently feel uneasy or strange about a person's behavior/way they were acting or staring, whether in the store or on the streets.  I never would have just strolled around at night by myself without my pepper spray back home, but do here easily. I'm still alert and aware, as I feel that's very important no matter where you are, but so far haven't felt uneasy or afraid here. 

*The People Here
-GASP! SHOCKER! Did she just say she liked those rude, crazy Germans? Is she crazy? 
Apparently I am. Let me tell you, when we first moved here, I was expecting and felt like it was accurate to say Germans were a cold bunch. They don't make eye contact and smile at you that much, or strike up conversation randomly on the bus. They don't "Hi, how ya'll doing?" and proceed to ask personal questions. This is all true. My first thoughts were that they were unfriendly people. And to someone who's used to living in the U.S., where in most places, people smile and make eye contact and chat wherever you go, it seems that way.

BUT what you discover, when you live here for a bit and learn the German way, is how incredible most of the people here are. I have found the people here to be so incredibly kind and helpful to each other. 
Some examples:
1. Any time an older person gets on the bus, someone gets up and offers them their seat. When a pregnant woman walks into a room or onto the bus, someone gets up and offers them their seat. 
People are very quick and efficient about getting on and off the buses and trams, but when someone with a stroller is trying to get on, people get up, they keep the doors open and help pop the stroller wheels up into the bus/tram and get in. 

2.  In the doctor's office while waiting for my appointment, a baby left with one his big brothers (around 11) in the waiting room starts wailing while Mom and the middle brother (age 2 or so) are with the doctor. A lady gets up, asks the child if it's ok, gets the newborn out and walks around, pats the baby, calms him down. The other people in the waiting room are smiling. No one is thinking: "I can't believe she touched that baby. Oh the lawsuit possibilities!" No, it's just a nice thing another lady did for a Mom and her child.

3. When you meet a German individual, they aren't as open and friendly and personal as you might be used to in another country. Germans take a little more time when getting to know someone, which I now think of as a GOOD thing. It doesn't mean they are cold or don't want to get to know you, they just think it should be done in layers. They don't lay their business and personal life all out on the table, nor do they like it when someone else does it right up front. BUT when someone here gets to know someone and decides they like them and opens up, they are loyal and friendly and personable. Being invited over for dinner or lunch is a big deal and is taken seriously here, it's an honor. They go all out with food and drinks and hospitality. 

4. Germans mind their own business. I like this. One thing I've always disliked is how Moms in the U.S. (and other places I'm sure!) are so critical and nosy about other Moms parenting styles and choices. Now, I'm not talking about something that is obviously dangerous or neglectful. I'm talking personal choices and parenting styles. People commenting on how "they did things" and passing judgement on others who do things differently. Drives. Me. Bananas! I have experienced so much less of that here. It's refreshing and freeing and feels more like a community to have so much less judgement and interference by others into your life. Everyone is different and it's nice that people don't stare, make comments, openly judge, etc as much here. 

This makes me laugh. :) Pretty accurate!

Germans love their festivals! They go all out and enjoy themselves. :)

Now you might be thinking that I'm coming down on Americans. I'm not trying to. I'm merely pointing out the things I LOVE about Germany. And these things happen to be much different than what I'm used to in the States. There are SO many things about living in America that I love and cannot find or experience here. Tons and tons! But I do love Germany, and I want to share why with you. Stay tuned for part dos zwei!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sometimes it's ok to Lash Out!

Background info: I love makeup. I have always loved playing around with new colors, new products and creating new looks. I actually don't wear a lot of makeup despite my love of it- my makeup routine literally takes me about 8 minutes start to finish. My daily regime is usually: BB cream or mineral powder, blush, a neutral eye shadow, charcoal eyeliner and 1-2 quick coats of mascara. That's it! For a night out or a special event, of course, I'll take a little more time or wear some more dramatic eye colors. I'm a big believer in accentuating what you have and not covering up your natural look.

My absolute favorite and must have makeup products are mineral powder, blush and mascara. Without blush, I look so pale and tired. Same with mascara. I'm thankfully blessed with decently long lashes that curl on their own- I don't own a lash curler! They scare me! Haha!

I recently had the opportunity to try a mascara I've never used before: Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes.

Now, I've heard of this mascara and have seen before and after pictures on friends' Facebook pages and such, but didn't' know much about it other than that. A friend who knows of my love for makeup sent me the mascara to try and review.
(I'm going to go ahead and apologize for my red and irritated allergy eyes in the photos! They've been like this for weeks with everything blooming here!)

(Read to the bottom to find out how you can win a FREE mascara from Cheryl Harrell at Younique!)

First off, the packaging is fabulous! I love the hard carrying/storage case- it's black and sturdy and chic. I was surprised to see two tubes inside, as at first I didn't know the procedure to apply this product. The tube you see on the left in the above picture (shorter tube) is the "Natural Fiber" tube. The longer tube on the right is "Transplanting Gel".

The instructions were clear and easy to follow: Start off with an application of the transplanting gel, then apply a coat of the natural fibers before the gel dries. I have to be honest and say I was a bit intimidated by the fiber tube when I first saw the wand- it is covered in little fur balls fiber fuzzies. All I could think about was that I was most likely going to get those bringers of eye death little fuzzy fiber suckers all in my eyes (OWWWW!) but thankfully that didn't happen.

Here's my zombie before picture / nothing on but a little BB cream:

My initial thoughts on this product, before using it:
*I was a bit intimidated by the procedure at first. Gel, fibers, gel- this is the order of each coat. You must start with the gel, apply the fibers while the gel is still wet, then seal it all with the gel again. You can apply more than one coat, just follow that order each time. I initially thought this would take a long time to do.

*The first time I applied the natural fibers, I was thinking "Wow, this ins't going to work, they are sticking out off my lashes and falling on my face!" BUT after you apply a coat of fibers, you seal it in with the gel, which cleans it up very nicely.

 Gel wand- this stuff goes on so easily!

Right eye after one coat of the mascara; left eye still naked!

Up close. This is still just one coat on my right eye only. Wow! Lashes!

Hard to see, but this is the fiber wand. It's kinda furry looking, but thou shalt not fear! :) 

Starting with the transplanting gel on my left eye- I'm getting the hang of this!

Application tips:
*Gel, fiber, gel. Make sure you follow that order, as that's how the mascara works!
*Don't be intimidated by the fibers (A.K.A. fuzzies!), they may go on kind of messily and unevenly, but the gel transforms them into perfection!
*The fibers come off the surrounding skin SO EASILY. Yes, they do tend to fall on your face around the eye area during application, but you can lightly wipe them off with a cotton pad or something similar. 
Here's an example of a few fibers getting on my face under my left eye- they come off so easily!

 This is one coat of the Moodstruck: 3D Fiber Lashes on both eyes.  Just one coat on top lashes!

Just another view- still 1 coat

 Side view- hey, I like giving you options!

This is a few minutes later, with a little blush, eyeshadow and liner added. I love the finished look!

Final thoughts on this product:
*I LOVE it! I am amazed that I like it so much. I'm extremely hard to please with mascara!
*I adore that it's so easy to clean up off of my skin- no scrubbing removing mascara off my eye-shadowed lids or from around my eyes. It doesn't leave a stain on my skin! This is good news.
*I love the build-ability of it. (Is that a word? Oh well...)
*Once you have tried it a couple of times and gotten into the groove of applying, it doesn't take long at all to do this. Honestly, I can do 1 coat of this stuff in the time it takes me to apply my typical mascara! Almost faster, as I'm no longer worried about getting wet mascara all over my lids!
*Yes, the fuzzies fibers look weird, but they work!
*This mascara didn't melt all over my eye area throughout the day as most normally do on me. YAY! Raccoon eyes begone!

~What do you think? If you are interested in trying this mascara or have any questions about Younique's products, please contact Cheryl at Any orders placed on her website will also be in a drawing to win a FREE mascara! Woot! 

I was provided supplied a full size product to sample and asked to give my honest feedback. All reviews and opinions are my own.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Piano Man

One of my favorite things is walking around and hearing people playing instruments, singing, etc. This happens on a daily basis in the city center, near a large shopping and office district.

After leaving the gym today, this is what I was treated to:

It just so happened that the moment I started recording, it was noon and the bells were ringing and music from the church bell tower was playing at the same it's a bit of a competing sound.
But this was lovely! 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

All Washed Up

Are you at all curious about how we wash our clothes here in Germany? No? Well, you're going to hear about it anyway...:)

Watch the video below for a very interesting lesson an insider's view (OOO! Lucky you!) on the subject.

Side note: Do you despise hearing your voice play back on videos and such? I do! Do I really sound like that, in real time? Hmm....

Quick list of some of the differences in doing laundry/washing machines in Germany: (this is from my observations and may not necessarily be the stone cold truth)

*Washing machines use a lot less water during the cycle here, which is good as it's better for the environment!

*Our "load size" is a lot smaller than a standard load size in the U.S. There ARE washing machines that are much larger here, but in general I think the size of the loads are smaller for most machines in Europe. BUT I've been set straight advised that the clothes don't need to "float" due to less water in the cycle, allowing you to pack the drum completely full. Hence a larger load. However, I don't pack it full, as I feel my clothes don't come out as clean if I do so, despite what everyone says! I do what I want I'm my own person here! :)

*Laundromats are a bit harder to find here. They do exist, but they tend to be smaller and the ones I've seen are a bit expensive!

*Most washers have internal water heaters. You don't have to rely on the temp of the tap to dictate the temp of the wash water.

*Wash cycles take a bit longer- as it used less water and the machine stops and starts a lot.

*Clothes tend to come out just as clean as what I'm used to, so I don't see a big difference there. This washer actually seems to be a bit harsher on my clothes.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Open Library

One of the very first things I found to love about living in Germany was the "Offene Bibliothek" that is literally 200 feet from our apartment. Now, you're probably wondering what on earth I'm talking about, so I shall explain. Right outside our patio is the cross section of the road we live on and another road (a platz), complete with a circular drive with a grassy middle area that is raised. If you walk outside and take a right onto the road that is perpendicular to ours, you will immediately stumble upon this:

Upon first glance, it looks like nothing more than a crazy graffiti-laden cabinet on the side of the road and walkway. BUT WAIT! Upon closer inspection (and opening the cabinet doors), you would see:

Wah-la! Books galore! Books of every genre. It is an open library (Offene Bibliothek) for people to enjoy at their leisure! The premise is simple: You take the books you'd like to read and return them when you're finished. You can also add to the collection by donating books. It's pretty amazing! I remember my first thought and spoken response after seeing this the day I arrived. It was something like, "Woah, don't people steal the books or destroy the cabinet or do mean things and vandalize this?" That's not very elegantly stated, I know. I was really thinking that something like this, with no lock and operating solely on the honor system, wouldn't last long in most cities in the U.S. *Sheepish face*
And I'm certain that sort of thing does happen to some of the Offene Bilbiotheks here, but this one remains in good shape. The cabinet doors don't even latch all of the way. People do post pictures and ads and add graffiti to the outside of the cabinet, but the inside has never been damaged.

I do so wish the books weren't all in Deutsch. Once in a while I find one in English and I do a happy dance and yell WOOPEE! and take it home to devour. Or something like that...;)
I love this open library system!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Food Stuffs Part Zwei

As promised, here is a glimpse into more food items, along with my thoughts on them. :) WHAT? Tell me you're not surprised I'm posting a lot about food. If so, tsk tsk. You know me better.

 The Radler

Let's talk about the "Radler" here. Radler is a half beer, half citrus soda adult beverage. The first time I was offered it, I actually had no interest in trying it. I really like my beer. I like beer to taste...beerish. Not sissified and mixed and such. But I was pleasantly surprised to find I really enjoy Radler! This is just one brand that makes it. Braustüb'l is one of my favorite beer brands here. This stuff is more refreshing and a lot less heavy than a normal beer, and has a very low alcohol content; around 2.7%.


Mmmmm Schokokeks. "Chocolate biscuits". These delicious little sins treats are pretty darn addicting. I don't buy them often as such. The biscuit texture and flavor kind of reminds me of animal crackers; just in non-mammal form. ;) The "Zartbitter" (delicately bitter) chocolate on top is just a perfect thin layer that lends to the double whammy of sweet and bitter yumminess overload. They. Are. So. Good.

Chili Tortilla Chips

This is actually my go-to salty snack. One of my all time favorite snacks has always been tortilla chips with salsa or dip. My mouth is now watering thinking of the crazy delicious (and FREE) chips and salsa you can get at Mexican restaurants in the U.S. Not so here for the most part. :( Sadness. Anyway, these tortilla chips are all natural and only contain a few ingredients. They are crispy and a little salty and full of spiced flavor. I really like them! I usually eat a handful plain OR dip them into plain Greek yogurt. Yep. Try it. These suckers are only 99 cents a bag at "Tegut" grocery store, which is a more upscale grocery store in the area that offers a really large selection of Bio (organic) products.

Studenten Futter

Before I talk about this, let me tell you what "Studenten Futter" would translate into if the "en" were left off the first word. "Student Futter" would be: student feed! I accidentally left off the en when I first looked it up to see what it meant and cracked up thinking that's really what it meant! You know, like college students needing a quick and easy yet healthy snack...nuts and such! Student feed! Alas, my humor quickly dissipated when I added the forgotten en and discovered it really means "Nuts and Raisins". WAYYYYYY lamer.

I really like these bags of student feed nuts and raisins because they are a really tasty and healthy snack in between meals or right before I go work out. Except for the raisins, there is no added sugar and all of the nuts are totally raw. Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, etc. All in one bag! And the bags are about 1.59 Euros at Aldi. I do confess I have probably gained 2 lbs in the last week from snacking on these and consuming almost an entire bag in one sitting due to not paying attention. And not just once. Healthy fats from nuts, but still fat!