CHECK OUT MY LINKY PARTY TAB TO SEE WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS UP TO IN THE BLOGOSPHERE.
YOU ARE SURE TO BE INSPIRED!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

You Just Never Know...Reminder to Live Simpler

A few week's ago, my mom's basement flooded with two feet of sewer water from that big rain in Michigan.  A couple weeks ago, a friend was unexpectedly given three weeks notice that her husband's job change would move them back to the US a year earlier.  You just never know when the rug will be pulled out from under you.  These were slap in the face reminders to me to live simpler.  To be more organized...or as organized as this Type B personality girl can get.

Living simpler has been on my radar for a long time.  Moving to Germany gave us the opportunity to press the reset button on our lives.  It's amazing that when you know you are leaving a place for three years, how suddenly it becomes clear how much stuff we don't need.  If it's not important enough to store for three years or bring with me, then why did I have it in the first place?

I can't remember if I shared how utterly grueling the sorting, purging, packing and moving process was for us.  I was pretty sure I was going to have a heart attack from the stress.  Lots of deep breathing and exhaustion. Both mentally and physically.

Our lack of daily organization came to wreak havoc on us when moving day came.  I'm a regular purger.  Seriously, no less than five bags a time, several times a year.  But the problem was, there were areas of our house that never got purged from our first move, boxes untouched, paper piles unsorted.  Sure, I know, if you haven't looked at it for years, then just throw the boxes away.  But I knew that hidden within the piles of garbage were things like important papers - marriage license, etc.  So began the worst part of the purging process.  I could go on and on, but the point is, I don't want to go there again.  EVER!

By the time we left, I didn't even want to see my stuff or think about my house.  I was never so excited to have to take an 8 hour flight.  I couldn't wait to do absolutely nothing.  I made a pact with myself that I would not let "stuff" take over my life again.

It's tricky.  I'm living in Europe for Pete's sake!  There's a careful balance of buying a souvenir just because I was there or buying it because I really love it and it will be cherished.

My mom's flood and my friend moving at a moment's notice reminded me to keep my stuff in check.  Always be purging and be a strategic and thoughtful shopper.

We move again in two years and I just want it to be a matter of putting things in boxes.  We've already been in Germany for six months.  Time does fly and before I know it, moving day will be here again.  So I've constantly been purging my house in my head.  I already know several items that won't be coming back to the US with us.  The list adds up every day.

Everyone's simpler lifestyle is different.  I'm not to the point of moving into a 500 square foot house, but I would like to embrace life's rich moments and stop being weighed down by the stuff around me.

You just never know when the rug will be pulled out from under you and I want to be ready.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Garbage Fairies in Germany

Yes, it's true.  Germany has garbage fairies.  My neighbor told me about them, but I didn't believe her until I saw it happen.  It was garbage morning and there they were taking our garbage cans to the curb.  Amazing.  Magical even.  And if that wasn't enough, those magical, garbage fairies returned the garbage cans to their homes when they were done.

I could get used to this.  No worries of missing garbage day and being stuck with your garbage until the next time.  Brilliant!

However, let's talk about waste management here a bit.  It's complicated and not so magical all the time.  Garbage day is not the same day every week.  It's not every week for that matter.  It is every two weeks and on random days each month.

Also, garbage is not just garbage.  There is sorting to be done, which I am actually totally fine with.  Back home I already had a sorting system going with my garbage, paper and plastic/glass/aluminum.

Here is the breakdown:

yellow = packaging = plastic, just to confuse us, milk cartons (I think because they have the plastic spout?), aluminum

blue = paper and cardboard

Yellow and blue are picked up ONCE A MONTH!  This kills me.  The yellow bin is usually overflowing by the time it's picked up.  It's kind of eye opening how much packaging waste we have.

bio = food scraps = not cooked food = veggie peels, egg shells, etc. oh and garden trimmings

black = true garbage, including leftover cooked food because there are no garbage disposals here

Bio and garbage are picked up every two weeks on totally random days.

Oh, and there's spermull.  That's a very special garbage day that happens a few times a year.  This is the day when you can put out all your big stuff like furniture pieces you don't want anymore.  In the two days before this happens, white vans will drive up and down your street at least 25 times a day.  I'm really not exaggerating.  These are professional garbage pickers.  I've done some roadside rescues a few times myself, but these guys do it seriously and they scout the streets until spermull is over and they move on to the next village.  It is literally their job.

I know you're dying to find out how I sort my garbage...you're on the edge of your seat, right?  I figure, just in case there's someone out there looking for info about life in Germany, maybe it will help them transition to this new world.  When I found out we were moving to Germany, I scoured the web for blogs on living here.

So here you go...

Bio
I used one of my ice buckets for my food waste.  At first it was under the counter, but I've found it much easier to have it out on the counter so when I'm chopping, I can easily throw it in the bin.  This usually gets emptied every day or every other, otherwise it can get stinky and fruit flies may start to invade.  Another trick a friend of mine does is she stores hers in the freezer, but I can use all the freezer space I can get.  Did I mention fridge/freezers are much smaller here? This bio bucket concept reminds me of Rachael Ray's garbage bowl.  Same concept really.



Garbage
Under the sink.

Yellow & Blue (aka: packaging and paper)
Cute IKEA garbage cans.  They hold a lot and I don't have to change them so often.

Returnables & Glass
It's funny, back home returnables were pop/soda/beer cans and bottles, but here, it is water bottles.  I'm not even sure about soda cans to be honest.  Oh and I forgot to tell you, you'll have to take your glass to a separate drop off bin.  They don't pick up those.

I just used IKEA bins for these.



There are only garbage fairies, not bio or yellow and blue fairies.  Those you have to remember to take to the curb all on your own.  And if you miss bio day, that is not a good thing.  And if you miss yellow and blue day, that's not good either because most likely your cans will be overflowing since it's only once a month.

Well, I hope this helps someone out there!

Happy garbage sorting!



Saturday, May 31, 2014

My Little Garden Friends

I've got new little friends.  They live in my garden.  I have a feeling they aren't good for my garden, but I like them anyway.  They seem to be everywhere around here.

My little guy and I were looking for patterns for his math assignment and ended up on a snail hunt.








What started as a tedious math assignment turned into a sweet moment with my little man and a reminder to savor the small moments.

Happy Weekend to You!
Enjoy the small moments, they are the sweetest!
- Kim -

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

first peek into the kitchen: open shelving

There are many differences between life in the States and life in Germany.  Some subtle and some not so subtle.  Some that make complete sense and some that just plain puzzle me.  One of the differences that has puzzled me is that Germans take their kitchens with them when they move.  Yep, the kitchen sink and all!  Light fixtures too.  Hence that lightbulb dangling from the ceiling in the photo below.

Lucky for us, my husband's company has a warehouse of kitchens and they fit it to suit the house.  Of course I asked if I could pick out the cabinet colors, but alas, no.  Hey, it was worth a shot.  Anyhow, the kitchen turned out much better than I anticipated.  I was nervously expecting outdated cabinets from the 80s.  But thankfully, they are fairly up to date and basic.  However, the cabinets have an orange-ish tone I could live without.  But in the grand scheme, they work and there's always the art of distraction to tone down the orange undertones.  My plan is to add a lot of white and pops of black to distract the eye.  We have a great set up, but it could use a little tweaking.



There was a blank wall between the refrigerator and bank of upper cabinets.  So much wasted space.  This was the perfect opportunity for open shelving.



Since this is a short term gig, I went for the cheapest shelving I could fine at the local hardware store. I think it was 2 euro per bracket and 8 euro per shelf.



These shelves make me a happy woman!  Seriously, giddy!


I missed my chalkboard from my kitchen at home, so I remedied that with some chalkboard contact paper.  An easy and inexpensive tweak that makes this rental more like home.  I've since added washi tape to frame the chalkboard and it feels much better to me.  I was too lazy to take an updated picture, but it will be in a future post I'm sure.


The wide open space in front of the cabinets is screaming for an island.  I had hopes of a low cost DIY, but it was a bust.  I bought industrial shelving, building only half of it and putting a butcher block on top.  It was way too wobbly, so I've conceded to spending a little money to get a sturdy island.  Sometimes it's worth spending the money.   The island is an IKEA trip away.  Can't wait!


That's it for now.  Be back to share more progress when there is more progress.


Monday, May 19, 2014

everything's coming up roses

Quite literally.  Our home has 17 rose bushes and they are in full bloom.  I don't really know what to do with these guys, except water at the root, don't get the leaves wet, cut at an angle right above a five leaf cluster.  Any green thumbs out there have advice to share, please do.

I am in love with these yellow roses.  When they are buds, they have a vibrant orange color, then they blossom into to pale yellow with pink edges.  And they smell like no other rose I've ever smelt.  In fact, they don't even smell like roses at all.  They are fruity, sweet, almost like candy.  I can't help but smell them over and over.



Our garden is full of plants and flowers that I don't know what to do with.  I'm hoping one of you may have some insight for me.  I'm going to take some pics of them and hope to at least find out what they are and maybe some advice from you on how to care for them.  HELP!  Pictures coming soon...

Our German Apartment

For our first month and a half in Germany, we lived in a hotel apartment until our container arrived.  Here is a peek at our first home away from home.


We lived on the top floor, which meant climbing four flights of winding stairs multiple times a day.  Add in groceries, and we had a mini workout each day.



 One of the benefits of small living...I could jump out of the shower and do a load of laundry.


We didn't have a dryer, so we dried our clothes the old fashioned way.  Oddly, this didn't bother me as much as I thought it would.  It forced me to plan out my time better, rather than waiting for a mountain of laundry to overtake my laundry room.  Living in this apartment was a mini bootcamp for me to break some bad habits.  Although, now that I have a dryer again, the laundry mountain is growing again.


To get my house fluffing fix, I grabbed some cute napkins from the euro store.


And started collecting the pretty, blue glass water bottles the hotel gave us.  Little moments like this made me feel more at home at little or no cost.



I happily displayed a Michigan oven mitt my friends gave me before I left.  It truly is the little things than can make a difference.


Sorry for this dark pic, the lighting in the kitchen was non-existent.  Just wanted to show you this efficient use of space.  The kitchen was basically a hallway into the next room.


As you may already know, ice is not really a popular thing in European countries.  If you want it, you must ask for it.  I love my drinks iced up and stumbled upon these disposable ice baggies at the store. Again, the little things that can make you happy go a long way.


We had two murphy beds and a table and chairs that served as our living, dining and bedroom.  I missed having a couch!  Next to this room was a doorway into another room that was more like your standard hotel room and across the hall we had another hotel style room.


It was nice to live simply for a while, but I was more than ready to move back into a bigger space.  What I missed most was just a common area we could hang out with a couch.  Oh, how I missed having a couch!!  Oh and a refrigerator bigger than a college dorm fridge!! :)  It's hard to store enough food for a family of five in one of those little guys.  I'd never grocery shopped so many times a week as I did living there.

It was a great place to start our adventure.  We've been in our house for almost two months now and are settling in.  There are few things still hanging over our heads...like a kitchen table, but we may have found one.  As we check things off the list, I'll give you a peek at our house.



Friday, May 2, 2014

a refreshing {german} drink: apfel schorle

Happy Friday, my friends!

Can you believe it is already May?!  Yesterday was a treat here in Germany.  May 1st is May Day (similar to Labor Day), so no school and no work.  It was the perfect chill out day.  The weather was sunny, we rode our bikes along the river, had lunch and grabbed some ice cream before we jumped on the ferry.  It reminded of what a wonderful opportunity we have to be here and experience a new culture and traditions.  I've been waiting for May Day because it is also the day young men deliver trees to the one they love/like.  They actually deliver it the night before so it's there when his special gal wakes up.  I was hoping to catch some guys on bikes carrying trees, but I missed that part of the fun.  However, I was delighted to see decorated trees in front of many homes around my village.  Such a sweet gesture that actually takes some true effort.  I love it!

This guy must like her a lot.  It's a pretty big tree!



Our family is also enjoying trying new foods and drinks.  Our favorite so far is apfel schorle.  They sell it everywhere here.  Before we moved, my husband shared it with us after one of his business trips.  Since they don't sell it back home, we made our own version and so can you.

All you need is sparkling water and apple juice.  You can decide on the ratio you like best.  If you like it a bit sweeter, add more apple juice.  Not so sweet, add more sparkling water.  Personally, I do about half and half and maybe a bit more sparkling water.  It's so refreshing and perfect for spring and summer!


Apple seems to be the most popular flavor, but I just discovered at lunch yesterday that they also do it with wine...weinschorle.   Quite tasty.  I'm sure you could use the same method, half wine, half sparkling water...maybe some fruit.  YUM!

Happy Spring!
- Kim

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bruges, Belgium ...You Had Me at Hello

Friends have been asking me to share some of our adventures here and I wanted to assure you that I'm not just sitting here being homesick.  :)  So I'm back today to share some of the fun...

The moment you step foot on the cobble stone of Bruges, Belgium, you are wooed by its charm.  It stole my heart as we wandered the streets.  It's a place I never knew I wanted to visit and quite frankly, didn't know existed.  And now, it ranks high on my list of favorite places.  I'm not sure if it's because I didn't know what I was in for and surprised and delighted at every turn in the road and winding canal.  But I can tell you, it is magical.  I almost felt as if we were walking around a movie set.  It was just one of those places you see in pictures, but doesn't seem real.



Bruges has a rich history and its city has been left untouched to take you back in time.  The streets smell of chocolate and waffles and if you're a beer drinker, you may just need to sit a spell to enjoy.


The Old Chocolate Shoppe on Maria Straat - the BEST hot chocolate I've ever had!

This place stopped my husband in his tracks.  Wish I'd written down the name of it.





I know I sound like a travel brochure, but it truly captured my heart.  There is more to learn about this wonderful place than I will go into here.  I'm just here to share that it's definitely worth a stop if you're ever in the neighborhood.  We actually only stayed for one night.  It was a last minute plan.  Our first trip after being here for just three weeks.  There's a funny sense of urgency to travel any time we get the chance so we can fit in as much as we can while we're here.  And I'm so glad that sense of urgency took us to Bruges.

From the top of the Belfry.



Monday, April 28, 2014

homesick

I'm feeling a bit homesick today.  I think it's because I scrolled through some old photos and realized that I couldn't just jump up and visit my dad, mom, sisters, in-laws and friends.

This is the picture that did it.

It's not that it was some kind of revelation that I wasn't aware of, it just hit me at that moment.  We've been in Germany for about two months now and it's been hectic, challenging and exciting all rolled into one.  I'm not sure where to begin, but blogging is the closest to home I can get right now.  It was one my favorite things to do back home, so I thought, I'd jump on for a few minutes for a little therapeutic writing.

I've started blog posts in my head a million times since we've been here and I'm not quite sure where to take this little ole blog.  There's such a mixed bag of stuff I want to share...life as an expat, tips, travel, living as a renter and retraining my brain to live differently.  And of course, the love of making a home a home.  So I guess, I'll start with a little post I wrote on my thoughts the day our stuff arrived...

today was the day.  the big green truck containing all of our belongings finally arrived.  there was a feeling of excitement to start making a home here and getting settled into a regular routine.  as i unpacked the boxes, there were things that made me giddy to see again, then there were things that just simply made me cringe.  the stuff that weighed me down.  it's funny how when given the chance to start with a blank slate, how good it feels to be rid of stuff.  the more I unpacked, the less I wanted to unpack.  once i had all the necessities and all the things I really loved, i didn't want to put out the rest of the "stuff".  So instead of trying to make it work, I've decide to take the stuff that made me cringe and put it on a shelf in the basement.  then once i've finished organizing and tweaking, I'll peek back at it...I take that back, I think I'll just get rid of it.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

It’s official, we are moving to…

…GERMANY!

Kim at Bonn City Center

Over the summer, my sister-in-law and I joked that after I ripped out all the carpets, painted the floors and redid another room, I would probably find out we had to move.  Fast forward a few months, and BOOM, those words became a reality.

I have been waiting to write this post for what seems like an eternity.  Suddenly things are happening at the speed of light and I kind of feel like I have to throw up on a daily basis.  We are moving February 13th to the biggest adventure our family will probably ever have together.  It will be the chance of a lifetime to see so many wonderful things within a train ride or short car ride or even a city hopper plane ride away.

You might be wondering, do the kids see it this way?  And the answer is, umm, no and yes.  As you can imagine a middle schooler’s reaction to leaving his buddies was not a pretty sight, my daughter was mixed, sad and interested in our new adventure and our big wild card surprise came from the little guy – completely excited.  What the what?  Didn’t expect that.

I know we’re in for a rough few months (or more) of transitions with the kids missing friends and me driving the wrong way on a one way, but in the end, I know the opportunities and adventures will outweigh all that.

Am I excited?  Yes!  Am I nervous?  Yes!  Am I sad to leave my friends and family?  Of course.  I am so grateful for my family’s encouragement and support to take this chance.  Without it, I don’t think I’d have the heart to leave.  Mom, especially to you, thank you for telling me to go for it without blinking an eye.

Oh, and when I said my word for the year was DISCOVERY, that was kind of cheating.  How can I help but discover and stretch myself while living in a new world?  So yeah, I sort of set myself up for success on my word for the year.  Just getting on the plane to go, I’ve already reached my goal of DISCOVERY.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...