Tuesday, April 29, 2014

All Things Rome- The Ladies' Room

If potty talk is not your cup of tea, then you might want to skip out on this entry because I'm about to discuss in All Things Rome, the bathroom situations.

I want to address toilets. Specifically the toilet conditions found in Rome. In a city so full of reminisces of Roman Gods, you would think there would be a better kept "Porcelain God" but there is not.

Every toilet in Rome is the same; too thin on top, wet rims, soaked floors, and no toilet paper to be had. And why, oh why, are all the seats unattached? Each and every time I visited a bathroom stall, I clearly saw two empty holes at the back end of the toilet top where a seat could and SHOULD be attached to the rim. 

Jokingly, or maybe not, Husband and I theorized that the establishments in Rome do not want you to "linger" any longer than necessary. Almost a "Take care of your business at home" attitude. 

The lack of seats forces an intense squatting on each potty visit. Thankful for a four story workplace with constant moving upstairs and down, my legs have some muscle tone. Still not quite enough that I feared an accidental "peed my pants" episode with each torturous squat.

This brings me to the wet rims and gross enough, the soaked floors. When given a seat, some women sit and some prefer the peeing squat. If the toilets had seats, wouldn't there be less pee on the rim as the sitting position is almost 100% aim accurate? Wouldn't the floors become a bit drier with less unpracticed squators? To add to the already tough situation of squat peeing, avoiding pools of urine while wearing canvas shoes and a tad-bit-too-long straight leg jeans takes it to a whole other level. 

Lastly, in the Land of Bidets, toilet paper is STILL and always will be a necessity. Where is your toilet paper, Rome? Luckily, well not for him, Husband had a cold in Rome so I was carrying tissues in my bag. After lunch I had to restock my purse taking my napkin and four paper towels for later "just in case" use. Only four years of Girl Scouts, and I was prepared. 

So ladies, just remember...When in Rome, stash away some toilet paper. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

All Things Rome- Sephora

One of the great things about planning our trip to Italy was knowing there are three Sephora locations in Rome! Unfortunately, Munich and possibly the rest of Germany does not have a Sephora store. Here in Munich, the closest resemblance to the black and white striped makeup mecca is a similar store called Douglas...and that is about all I know of that place. The name.

Shopping under the bright lights and within the floraly scents of Sephora just feels more at home. (Same goes for when I make an Ikea trip) Every Sephora store looks almost exactly the same inside across the oceans, I know the products, and it is uncomplicated.

Sometimes living in a different country can be a bit stressful when researching or buying products of the unknown. Let's face it, buying makeup in English is a whole lot easier than reading and translating the German labels. For almost a year now I have been interested in replacing my mineral foundation. Not wanting to hassle with figuring out the best brands in Deutschland, I have just been procrastinating. I know I could have ordered online or even made a purchase when we were in Texas over Christmas, but...things like cuddling with newborn nieces and Mexican food can be distracting. <3

As you can tell, finding Sephora in Rome, Italy became a "tourist" attraction for me. I just HAD to stop by one of the locations and Husband won HUGE points for helping me track down the closest Sephora to our hotel. What a guy in the midst of Roman ruins and artistic masterpieces to agree to such a detour!

A little bit late, I know, I have finally jumped on the Bare Minerals bandwagon. It has been a fun week playing with my new makeup and I'm never going back. The difference in Bare Minerals and my old mineral makeup is noticeable in the application, how it feels (or hardly feels), and the coloring is just perfect.

When in Rome,

Sunday, April 27, 2014

9 Days in Italy

Husband and I are back from a 9 day road trip through Italy. This was one of our bigger trips of the year and it was marvelous. We both agreed this trip was better than Paris but not quite as amazing as visiting Ireland and Scotland. This was my third time to Italy and Husband's fourth

Our whirlwind Easter trip started out with a stop in Pisa, 2 days in Rome, a visit to Pompeii, a couple of days on the Amalfi Coast, and ended with a way too short of a stay in Tuscany. Does Florence count if we only stayed for 2-3 hours? More on that later!

 Since our trip was broken up into 3 different areas of Italy, we planned a vacation filled with a little bit of everything. There were the crowds and art in Rome, fish dinners and ocean views on the Amalfi Coast, and a scenic drive through the winding back roads of wine country deep inside Tuscany.

To keep our trip information and travel tips simple, I will organize everything either under Rome, The Amalfi Coast, or Tuscany. Even though we were only in each location for a short amount of time... I still feel like we learned a lot and you might benefit from our stories or find your next vacation location!

Stay tuned this week as I post about our trip!

On the Road Again,

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

German Home Tour: The Living Room

Hello Friends! I am trying something new today. This is the first time I will be participating in a link up with other blogs. Andrea, over at Momfessionals, has assigned different living areas each month to showcase from your home. It's like a virtual Open House! Who doesn't love, secretly or not so secretly, seeing other people's living spaces?

Our readers have shown interest in Husband and my living abroad experiences... so now I would like to welcome you inside our home in Munich, Germany. I hope you like what you see!
Please excuse my exhausted-after-work hair.

Since Husband and I are not sure how long we will live in German, it did not seem practical to spend tons of money in our current home. Some items in our flat came across the ocean, others are hand-me-downs from the local international group, and a handful of things were bought at Ikea. Most of our personal items are currently boxed up in storage back in Texas. 

This is the view into our living room from the entryway. The glass doors lead out onto our patio. The walls are painted an olive green but originally I was hoping for a color with more of a grey undertone. After the green walls, the furniture is all white, light woods, and neutral to match our shedder of a dog, Shelby. Good thing she is cute!

Couch- Ikea "Ektorp"
*Chairs-Target "Marigold"
Coffee Table- FREE
Chest- FREE
*Pillows- Pier 1
Lamp- Ikea
*Canvas- Pier 1

* Items shipped from our home in The States.

Media Stand- Ikea
Palm Tree- Hand Me Down
Floating Shelves- Ikea
Curtains- Hand Me Down

The floating shelves are relatively new from Ikea. They are still a work in progress. I need a couple more large white and natural wood frames to replace the small metal ones. Most of the pictures are wedding photos. The art print is an urban city drawing from artist Elzemieke. I made the wreath and letter "A".

I have been fascinated with the 1940s and 1950s American vintage styles for nearly a decade now. The bright colors, logos, and designs can be found scattered through out my home. This is a frame I actually found here in Germany for less than 5 Euros. It is displaying a wedding photo from my grandparents who share the same anniversary as Husband and I.

These potato sacks I brought over from The States. I found them antiquing on a back Indiana road during a family road trip during 2010. They were super cheap at $5 a piece folded up in the back of an old building. Currently, I have stuffed them with queen size pillows. They are supposed to act as floor pillows but I have never had a guest use them! Oh well... 

*Mirror- Ross
Bar- FREE (old TV stand revamped by Husband)
*The bar items were wedding gifts.

Ikea Bookshelf- FREE (story here)
Dying Palm tree- Ikea
*Canvas- TJ Maxx
*Misc. items brought from The States

Did you notice more black and white photos?

Shelby Dog!
The reason EVERYTHING is white!

Now to compare and contrast! This is our living room back in Texas. It is fun to look back and see what items were moved here to Germany, what went to the garage sale, and the things that are boxed up in storage.
Looking Back- 2012

We sold the couch at a resale shop in my hometown. The coffee table sold at the garage sale. Currently, the books, rug, and chairs are here in Munich. Husband and I are still debating if we will leave the chairs here someday or ship them back to Texas. 

I love our side table! My best friend and I went to an estate sell back in Texas during the summer of 2011. I bought the table for just 5 bucks. Husband refinished it to match the chair legs.  The vintage girl cavas' were shipped to Germany and currently hang above our couch. I like to think of me as the red head and the blonde as my best friend!

As you can see some things have changed and yet some have stayed the same. When Husband and I move back to Texas we will be right back in this very living room. Our flat in Germany is a temporary living space but Texas is where we call Home.

Make Life Beautiful,

Monday, April 14, 2014

Easter Hoppenings

I can't believe it is almost Easter. Weren't we just sipping hot cocoa next to the fire admiring the glistening Christmas tree? In fact, my parka is still hanging by the front door just in case this beautiful spring weather is just a late April Fool's joke. 

Coffee and Cake Time!

Well whether or not I still have a box of Christmas ornaments lingering out of the storage space, it is time to prepare for Easter. This weekend Husband and I invited some friends over for coffee and cake. Originally, the idea did not have any Easter intentions and was just a good o' fashion excuse to socialize. However, if you know me, you know I like to plan with "themes". (Read about our Germanniversary Fiesta here)

Coconut Cupcakes

I do a lot of baking, nearly every weekend. It is a bit dangerous considering my lack of work out routines but I like to live life to the "fullest". Get it? Fullest! Anyways, my specialty has become Barefoot Contessa's Coconut Almond Cupcakes. About five years ago I received The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook as a Christmas present. To this day, it is my all-time favorite cookbook and I can tell you it often ends up on my nightstand. Does anyone else read cookbooks before bed? 

We had a wonderful time sharing travel stories, eating these Coconut Almond Cupcakes, and sipping Husband's fresh ground coffee. 

The Goodies

This year I decided to put together a "Grown-Up" Easter basket for Husband and myself. Since we will be taking a road trip over Easter, I decided to include snacks for our long drive. To go inside the Easter basket, I bought granola bars, crackers, dried sausage, cranberries, mint candies, and chocolate egg truffles. 

Instead of buying shredded plastic grass, I used green fabric that doesn't leave a mess.

Everything I used to assemble the basket I already had on hand. The material was leftover from another project, the basket cost a Euro, and the plastic rabbit and carrot eggs came from my Mother In Law last year. 


The entire cost of the Grown-Up Easter Basket was a little less than 10 Euros.

Happy Easter Everyone!

Husband and I always take snacks on our road trips to help save cost over the expensive, marked up items found in gas stations. Usually, I keep the items close by behind our seats in my brown Thermos cooler. I think this Easter Basket will be just as handy for grabbing a quick snack. 

Nonexistent Baby's First Elephant!

Check out my cute, new handmade elephant! It was crocheted by my friend's mom who lives in the Czech Republic. My friend posted a picture on her blog of a similar elephant and I knew I had to have one. Someday I will hopefully put it in a nursery but for now, it is sitting on our bed where I just stare at the cheerful colors. Isn't it adorable?

Happy Easter,

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Brotzeit is Bavarian

When Husband and I welcomed in 2014 I don't think either one of us had any "real" New Year's Resolutions. Mine are always the same year after year... work out, eat well, travel as much as possible, write a book. 

Here we are in April and this is what I can say about those four resolutions: sometimes I walk to the train stop (when Husband is working), Husband and I eat QUITE well (*wink, wink), we added a new country to our list in February, and my book....well I have a laptop ready when I decide to start.

To offset my habit of baking too often, Husband and I each week have a few "Bavarian" meals. When you think of Bavarian food, often people are talking about pretzels, sausages, schnitzel, and potatoes. Not here. In our house Husband and I have recreated the term "Bavarian". 

Here is an example of a typical conversation:
Maren: "What's for dinner tonight?"
Husband: "I don't know. Do you want to do Bavarian?"
Maren: "Yes, that sounds great. I don't feel like cooking."

This is what Bavarian looks like in our house: 
 When Husband and I have Bavarian for dinner it consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, bread, and sausages. I'm not sure when we started using the term "Bavarian" to mean a meal like this, but it probably has something to do with the fact that we can't make a Chicken Express run.

To create a "Bavarian" meal all you need is a little of this and a little of that. The Germans call this style of meal "Brotzeit". Almost everything, with the exception of the sausage and cheese, is non-processed. 

I hope someday when Husband and I return to the States that we will continue our "Bavarian" meals. It feels so good to eat fresh foods! Do you enjoy meals with a little variety?

Happy Eating,

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Let's Hear It for the Red, White, and Blue!

The following are true stories: 

Story One:
Last year, around this time, Husband and I joined two friends from California for a steak dinner here in Munich. Ironically, finding American friends in Munich is somewhat similar to finding a good steak. Hard to come by. 

Over dinner I shared a story with the table that went something like this:
Me: "Yadda, yadda, yadda...It seemed a bit cheeky."

Laughter burst out and I immediately was overcome with confusion. This wasn't meant to be the funny part of my story. Then my American, steak eating friend informed me that I just described something using the word "cheeky". How many Americans say "cheeky"? Hmm...seems like I am getting some British influence over here in Munich.

Story Two:
This past May, two of my best friends from Texas came to Munich to visit. One insisted that my accent had a British influence. Not a British accent but a British influence. She even described what I was doing...emphasizing the syllables in words and I realized she was right! Now Husband is even emphasizing the syllables and raising the tone higher at the end of a question. What used to be "Maren" is now "Ma-Ren". (You just read that in a British accent didn't you?)

An American Colonial bar with British Naval Decor

Words like "cheeky", "wonky", and "dodgy" have somehow made their way into my vocabulary. Of course it is still near impossible to say "y'all" with a British influence. Don't y'all worry about that!

And now I must point the blame on some sweet British friends who have made my time here in Munich a bit more bearable when things like turning 30 happen. 

"A British Tea Party"
British, German, Austrian, and American

Queen Elizabeth and Hostess with the Mostess

 Cupcakes, Scones, and Biscuits?

One amazing impact with living abroad is the different people I have been fortunate enough to meet. When you are across the ocean for months at a time, away from your family, best friend of 17 years, and Alma mater tailgating buddies it can get lonely. The chance to meet new friends, from all different walks of life, is something to be grateful to encounter. Even the people that quickly came and just as fast left our lives, Husband and I are glad to have had the acquaintanceships. Even the dodgy ones.

Kiss On Each Cheek,

Monday, April 7, 2014

Travel Memories: Heart Map Collage

They say when it rains, it pours. Lately, I have been crafting up a storm! Unlike the craft drought during the first three months of 2014, I think it is safe to say I am over my "burn out"This weekend I continued working on an ongoing project. 

On the weekends Husband and I are not traveling, you can usually find me at home crafting memories from our trips. Did you catch the blog about creating digital photo albums? Besides the digital photo albums and travel blog entries, I also started a heart collage made from our trip maps.

After trips, I tend to keep brochures, maps, and tickets. Overtime these "memories" start to collect because I always intend to do "something special" with it all. I'm sure you know where this is going... 

The heart map collage is my way of preserving our memories and avoiding the clutter. Here are the details:

-20 cm x 20 cm canvas
-Acrylic paint
-Mod Podge
-Travel map

First, I paint the canvas so it has a chance to dry while I am working on the next step.

I use a combination of different blues and greens because turquoise and green apple are my favorite colors! Have you noticed? 

Then, I locate on the map the area Husband and I spent the most time. I center the area and roughly cut out a square the size of the canvas.

Next, I fold the square in half. Just like back in elementary school, I freehand cut half a heart starting and ending at the crease. Part of the charm of the Heart Map Collage is that ever heart is unique from the rest. 

Last, I brush a layer of Mod Podge on the back of the heart. I then center the heart on the dry canvas adding more Mod Podge along the edges as needed. Over the top, I brush another layer of Mod Podge to seal the paper to the canvas. 

I'm still mastering the art of using Mod Podge and always end up with air bubbles. I try to squeeze out as many air bubbles as possible using the brush and sometimes my fingers before the Mod Podge dries. Does anyone have any advice on how to avoid the air bubbles?

L to R: Vienna, Verona, Brussels, Lucerne
Paris, Venice
I let the canvas dry (about 10 minutes) and then added it to our existing Heart Map Collage. Each canvas is hung up using a thumbtack and the old eyeball method. These hearts are from 2013 and 2014. SOMEDAY...I need to go back and add our vacations from 2011-2012. 

In two weeks Husband and I will be celebrating Easter in Rome. (Yes, we know we are insane.) We are also making stops in three other cities in Italy. Would you add a heart for each destination or one heart for the entire vacation? 

Make Memories Beautiful,