Out of Office

I think it is important to know when we need a little break. I think it is also important to know when quality takes a little bit of a hit over quantity. And third, it is important to make sure that we make the time for those in our real life, our friends, our families and ourselves.

While I’ve definitely found the balance on my time in regards to time away from the computer and phone, but I’ve been lacking in the other two above sentences.

Side note: I’ve been feeling a little…restless. Which is odd as we’ve been go, go, go with moving in to the house (and that has been exhausting in its own form). I have so much that I want to write, want to share, want to talk about , and yet I don’t have many words. I want to make sure that the posts that are going up, the things that I am sharing are well written and are worth sharing. I feel like I’ve had some good posts, but equally have had some duds that weren’t what I had hoped for.

All of this to basically say I am going to be taking the next couple weeks off of posting. The timing of this is perfect as we are gearing up to head out on our first long family vacation in Europe! I am super excited about this trip as it’s basically my dream vacation. I’ve planned the itinerary from start to finish, we have everything booked, and I am definitely looking forward to having a great time over the next couple weeks.

I have a handful of blog posts that I am planning on for August/September between our house, our travel, and some everyday/conversation observations, but I’ve realized over the past couple weeks that taking these breaks from time to time are really good, both for me as a writer/blogger and you as a reader.

Moving forward, when we have our long family vacations, I won’t be doing blog posts while we are gone. While I mostly pre schedule these posts, there is still an amount of work that goes on on the day and following days in regards to the posts.

And while I love writing, I love sharing, and have such a passion for it, we all need a breather every once in a while. It gives us a chance to have a fresh set of eyes and maybe some fresh ideas when we come back in. Also, oftentimes when we are feeling in a bit of a rough, taking a step back can help us naturally come back to what we love.

So, look for me on Social Media to follow along as our family travels to parts of the United Kingdom and stay tuned when I come back in just a few short weeks to share all of the exciting things with you!

A Cuppa Cosy Adventure: Raw Milk Pasteurization

Recently we got the chance to stop and get fresh milk. We live in the rural countryside of Germany and the farmlands are everywhere. There are a couple spots somewhat near to us that offer these milk vending machines where you can get fresh milk. Not only is seeing this happen up close, it’s such a fun experience to use the vending machine, and then look around at the other goodies offered. In our area a liter of fresh milk was 1 Euro, 10 fresh eggs (from that morning!) we’re 3.50 Euro, apple chips were 2.50 Euro, and a jar of honey was 5 Euro. You are able to either bring your own milk bottles or purchase from them (I think to purchase was about 2 Euro, plus the Euro to fill them up). We had a fun little time filling our jars (we recycled 3 from our store-bought milk), saying high to the cows, and just generally looking at the different offerings and set up.

Super cool, right?!

One catch, it is Raw Milk. And by saying Raw Milk, what I mean is Unpasteurized Milk.

There isn’t really anything inherently wrong with raw milk, you can certainly drink it if you would like to, and in some cases it may actually taste better than store bought milk. BUT it basically hasn’t been “purified” of any bacteria or diseases that the cow may have or may have consumed prior to being milked. Again, each person is able to make the decision as to what they wanted to do, but for us, with our children being the main milk consumers in our house, I definitely wanted to pasteurize it before it was consumed.

A chance for another adventure for us!

Luckily enough, pasteurizing milk is something that you can do at home and is easy enough to do. At its core, pasteurization is simply heating the milk to a certain temperature for a certain amount of time and stirring. A lot of stirring. Once I realized just how simple and straightforward this was, I became all for it.

Monday morning, I pulled out my pot, using one of the thicker bottomed ones that already has a pretty good nonstick bottom (and that holds heat very well), grabbed a thermometer, and got to work. I used the low temp pasteurization method, which involves heating the milk to 145 degrees Fahrenheit and keeping it at that heat for 30 continuous minutes. If it falls below the 145 then you will need to start the 30 minutes over again. I erred on the side of caution, both not trusting my thermometer entirely and wanting to be extra safe, and tended to let my milk drift a little on the upward end of 145-150.

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LOVED involving both boys in this process. It takes quite a bit of time at the stove, so fun to pick them up and have them watch or take a turn stirring 🙂

You will need to continue stirring the milk throughout the entire process as it will stick, scorch, and lump up if you do not. This means that if you choose to do this, you will need to have at minimum an uninterrupted hour of time. To do my 3 liters of milk (done 1 liter and then 2 liters), it took me about 2 ½ hours total time. Once the 30 minutes were up, the milk is then transferred from pot to a clean (sanitized) container for chilling and consumption. I think for the next round I will get a few larger pitchers or glass jars that are specifically for milk. You will definitely want to use a funnel as well to get from pot to container.

-6120453172414164475_IMG_5483Once all three were full I put them in the fridge to cool down so the boys could drink it. I ended up filling about 2.75 liters of milk (some splashed and such) and labeled each bottle with the batch info and date for my own knowledge. It took about 6 hours or so until it was cooled to drinking temps in our fridge.

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In terms of taste- neither myself nor my husband noticed any difference. We did a comparison between a store-bought jar and our home pasteurized and while they didn’t taste identical, there wasn’t a super noticeable difference either. Most store-bought milk goes through the high temp pasteurization which already gives it slightly cooked taste (not overly so and we’ve all adjusted to that taste/don’t even notice it) and ours tasted fine when compared to it.

So, would I do it again? Absolutely! It was one of those really fun adventures and things to do with the kids (they were involved ever so slightly), and you can’t get any better than fresh milk. I’m curious though, after reading about what all it entails…would YOU do it? Let me know down below!

Travel/Hiking/Getting Out With Kids

I’ve been getting a couple of questions, getting some comments, and hearing remarks from other families about how great it is when you have kids that are “easy” travelers, love to be outside, don’t mind walking/hiking. Most of these are in a tone of surprise, some have further questions, and I have heard a couple people say that they wouldn’t travel as much because they do have kids.

Let me say this, in the grand scheme of things traveling with kids is easy.

That’s putting it lightly. It’s obviously not “easy” and it is a little bit more complicated than if it was just you or you and your significant other, but it is definitely not as hard as people seem to think it is. Kids are not a reason not to travel. Let me say that again- kids are not a reason not to travel. In fact, they are a really good reason to travel.

This is going to be a post in two parts, the first talking about how we started and managed to travel/hike/get out with our two boys and the second will touch on the good reason about traveling with your kids.

When we had Colton we did a fair amount of day trips, getting out on the weekend and exploring our area. We did two long distance trips a year, one to see family and the other to a new location every year (both of which we drove to). We also did one long haul flight when he was a little over a year and a half.

Honestly, there has been no special secret to traveling with him, or with Andrew. We’ve just done it.

Has he had meltdowns? Yes, in fact he had the worst meltdown in a Dunkin Donuts in Berlin. Did it suck? Yes. Did people stare? Eh kind of (as much as they ever have in any other circumstance). Did it end? Yes. Did we quickly finish our food and head out, yes. It wasn’t an end to the trip, it didn’t change our enjoyment of the trip overall and it definitely didn’t change our minds to traveling in the future.

Yes, on the whole we have relatively easy going, up for anything kids, BUT I’ve found that kids are willing to go along on a good amount of things if you are wiling to take them. We do a variety of things on our vacations, some things with the kids in mind (Tiergarten in Berlin), some things with Mom and Dad involved (Mozart’s Birthplace in Salzburg). We make sure that we combine things throughout the day of kid friendly and mom/dad. We make sure that meals are as close to the same time when we are out as when we are home.

I’ve also found, specifically when it comes to hiking, being active, and being outside (also just being away from screens), kids follow their parents lead. Lately Colton, currently 3 ½ years old, has taking to walking almost 90% of our hikes. We recently did a “light/mild” hike through some Castle Ruins. We ended up walking almost 2 ½ miles that day and he walked almost all of that.

We’ve had some really long days while traveling. Walking, riding various forms of public transport, and while we’ve had moments of meltdowns (to be expected either way), they’ve both adapted really well to this sort of go, go, go. If anything I think they enjoy it, seeing all sorts of different, new things. They nap when they need to whether that is in a little umbrella stroller or on our shoulders and are generally really good on the fly.

Our weekly walks (once or twice a week) go about 1 ¾ mile and he walks all of it without being asked to be carried. Even Andrew at 2 years old is walking a good amount of these walks we do. We have always been outdoorsy, always chosen to walk a lot, hike, be outside as much as possible and I think that is a lot of why our kids are that way as well.

Basically what I’m saying (if this makes any sense), is to just go with it. Get out, experience the world, have a positive mindset about it and your kids will follow that. They model their behavior off of you as their guide, so if you are open to these new experiences, so are they.

Quickly I want to touch on WHY traveling is so good and important for our children. The first is that it teaches them a level of independence. Of learning how to handle new environments, new places, and new experiences. It also shows them that there are other places in our world. The world is a wide and wonderous place full of different people, cultures, and traditions. I think it is incredibly important to teach and show our children as many of these as possible. Our children should know more than what they grow up in, they should know of the world and if you can do that for them in some way, that is invaluable towards their future and their lives. I can touch on this in a separate post if you’d like.

And that is how/why we travel with our kids. Ultimately it comes down to just doing it. If you are wondering how to travel with your kids, more practical tips/or things that we take with us, let me know below and I’ll talk about that in another post!

No Camera’s Allowed

It’s no secret we’ve been doing A LOT of travel over these past few months and that is not something that will be changing anytime soon. It’s also no secret that I’m a major camera/picture junkie. I LOVE taking pictures.  I’ve always got my camera out from everyday little moments (seriously, my older son just looked so cute playing with a baseball bat in the store), to bigger vacation moments (this scene was just dreamy!). I’m one of THOSE people. I love having all of the memories to look back on, little snippets of our day to day to have for memories. This is especially heightened when we travel.

I’ve been able to capture photo’s at almost every place that we’ve traveled (every place’s exterior at least), but I have noticed that there are some locations that will not allow camera’s or photos. The most memorable were Neuschwanstein/Hohenschwangau, Berchtesgaden Salt Mines, Mozart’s Birthplace, and Salzburg Cathedral doesn’t encourage them. Each place has their own vast reasons as to why and I am not here to talk about the reasons (frankly I can guess, but just respected their rules).

With that though, it got me thinking. Every time I pick up my camera I pull myself ever so slightly out of the moment. Every time I go to take a picture of a place, rather than just take a minute in that place, I pull myself away. Yes, I’ve got a beautiful picture to hang in my home, to remind me of the wonderful places we’ve been, but I also have then taken a few minutes out of our time there (just for one single picture, not for all of them), to take the picture rather than simply enjoy the scenery.

I’ve been pretty good at balancing pictures and being in the moment at every place that we’ve traveled, but in places where “No Camera Allowed” is displayed, I honestly get a little thrill out of it. A chance to just look, to not feel the need to capture everything I want (which is A LOT). I am able to focus more on what I’m looking at, take a little more time at each point in a tour, and while I don’t know if the enjoyment level is really any more or less (as like I’ve said I love taking pictures) it’s definitely different.

I’ve even noted this in my everyday. As I said, I’m always taking pictures in our everyday. Our kids are actually picking up on that, and will say cheese at any time or even pose sometimes haha. I love seeing what we were up to at various times of our weeks and it’s really funny to look back on. I’ve been trying to get better over the past year or two about just taking a step back from being like that, for a similar reason than the one’s I’ve stated above.

Now, let me make something clear…this picture bit has really nothing to do with Social Media or with Blogging. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. Always wanting to capture moments in pictures and in words, rather just being in the moment. This is nothing new to me. Social Media and my Blog has given me a way to share that with others, but it is not the root of what I am talking about.

I also want to be clear that I don’t think that there is anything wrong with this. I think that it is great and I fully plan on continuing on being that crazy picture person, BUT I definitely have enjoyed a bit of a reprieve every now and again and I think I need to do that more.

Looking through the lense or viewfinder can be incredible and you can see things and people in different ways, but It doesn’t really compare to just putting the camera down and being present at that moment. So here’s to less camera time and more in person/in the moment time.

2nd Quarter Favorites

We’ve reached the end of another quarter and I want to take a minute to talk about some of the things that I’ve been loving lately. I really enjoy sharing my favorites with you and I hope that you may find some favorites too! I cover anything from home to style/fashion to food.

I will say- I did do a mid-quarter post about some of my favorite books/media options which you can read HERE. I’ll try not to repeat anything that I included there in this post.

Clothing/Accessories

I’ve got two clothing items to share with you today that have become staples in my “hotel” wardrobe. I feel like I am constantly reaching for them and I know I will continue to do so even when we get our household goods after moving in to our house.

6313769200629878336_IMG_4809The first item is this skirt. The brand is called Review and I found it in one of our local shopping stores. It fits like a dream and is just comfortable enough to wear all the time. I haven’t worn a jean skirt since I was in high school and was wary to pick one up, but I just really love the way this one looks. I usually pair it with a tucked in tea, but know I will be pairing it with my tank tops as well.

IMG_5375Another item is this dress. I talked about this in my last What I Wore post, but this dress is just…everything I love in a dress. It’s flowy and airy, can be paired with just about anything, and compliments a wide variety of body types. It is by the same company as the skirt, Review, and I found it in the same shop. Such a classic!

IMG_7195An accessory item that I have recently purchase and am loving is a new watch! I’m a big watch person, wear one every day, and am not the biggest fan of the smart watches. I just wanted something classic, that would match everything and do the time telling job. I switch between this one and my Skagen. This particular watch is the MVMT (Orion). I have found it easy to adjust to seeing multiple clock faces, and love that I can see what time it is in the states, along with the time here.

Multi Media (Podcasts/Music/TV)

Alright, music wise not much as changed. Still obsessing over Charlie Cunningham, The 1975, Muse, and Billie Eilish. I have, however, found some new podcasts that I’ve been binge listening to…ShePercolates is the first, My Favorite Murder, and All the Books. I’ve really found a stride with podcasts over the past couple weeks and it’s kind of what I want right now, more so than YouTube videos or anything. As for TV, we are still watching The Ranch and re runs of a show called Lost Girl (? Not sure about this one- it’s been the one that they are playing right now on the English channels on our German Hotel TV). We’ve recently watched a Holocaust documentary, which we enjoyed, and are hopeful that once we move in we will get a couple other shows to watch.

Books

Books that I’ve read recently, obsessed over and haven’t talked much about…hhmmm. Well I’ve just recently (like a couple weeks) read Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng and loved it. Such a beautifully written story and I highly recommend that. I did also enjoy the thriller of I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh, although I found one twist to be a bit unnecessary. Both of these books do come with Content Warnings. I’ve also read Normal People by Sally Rooney recently and while I did personally enjoy it, I don’t know that it would be for everyone.  Most of the other books that I’ve read have been fairly average or I talked about them in my last blog post (you can read that HERE).

Food/Drink

Ah, we’ve recently once again become obsessed with Pesto Sauce. There is something about having a side dish of rotini with pesto in the summer months that is just so light and refreshing. It’s almost like a perfect complement to whatever you are making. I found a delicious, easy recipe for Chicken/Pasta with a Creamy Pesto sauce and we’ve been loving that.

I’ve also found a gluten free Chocolate Macaroon that is absolutely delicious. They are called Mrs. Crimble’s and they are just so good. They are made with coconut, bottom dipped in chocolate, and drizzled chocolate over top. So good and such a nice little treat!

Beauty

My beauty pick for this post is going to be my Garnier Micellar Water. I use this every evening to remove my makeup and it is just so incredibly refreshing. It removes all my makeup in one go without breaking or drying my skin out. My skin always just feels refreshed afterwards before I’ve even washed my face.

Other Random Bits (Kids/Travel)

We recently celebrated a birthday in our home, Andrew’s second, and once again, there were two presents that were big hits. The first being a Winnie the Pooh Stuffed animal. For Colton’s birthday we got him Tigger and he absolutely loved it, and I had wanted to give Andrew a Winnie one as well. He loves it, calls it his “baby” and carries it all around the house. The other gift that was a big hit (and was with Colton as well when he got them) are the Lego Duplo toys. These are such great gift options, they have so many different options (for example, Colton got the part/outdoor one and Andrew got a train one) and they are the perfect size for kids ages 2-4/5.

And that is all I’ve got for this quarter! I hope that you enjoyed this post and let me know what some of the items are that you have loved over the past couple months.

Moving – A Real-Life Moment

Being totally honest- I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t really know what I am saying. I am just free writing this in the hope that something will stick. Maybe I’ll come back in a little bit and edit it, maybe I’ll just let it post exactly as it is. We shall see…

A little caveat before we get into my rambling- this is not the post I had originally anticipated posting. This week I had a quarterly favorites post (which will be up on Wednesday) and then was going to do another installment in the Utterly Ridiculous Short Stories of My Life about our HHG delivery. HOWEVER, my brain is fried and quite honestly, every time I look at the partially written short story I just crack a little more. I want to be able to do these posts justice and share good content so instead of giving you a half ass short story, I am going to just blabber for a minute about how I’m actually feeling. I hope this isn’t an issue for anyone.

So, if you haven’t been following along…never mind that – If you are reading this post, you are probably well aware of our move. If you follow me on Social Media you are even more aware of it as I think I’ve mentioned the words “our move” more than anything else…I wish I was kidding,

It’s safe to say that I am very excited about our move. Brief breakdown (just skip two sentences if you don’t want to hear this bit for the umpteenth time), we moved to Germany in February of this year. We’ve been living in a hotel apartment up until a little shy of a week ago. Moving to Europe has been a dream come true and I can say without a doubt that within the first week or two we (as a family) had the overwhelming sense of home. It just feels really good to be here.

More than that, our neighborhood is one of the really good ones in our area. We have had the most welcoming and happy neighbors (on both the American and German side) and our house is perfect for us. The boys have been able to have all of their toys back and they have a large yard to go run laps…err energy off in.

And now? Well now my brain is absolutely fried. My body is exhausted. And I still feel the stress and anxiousness of “things to be done”. I am one of those people that, when moving, has to do it all right then. I don’t take breaks very often in the unpacking/settling in process, preferring to just go, go, go until it is all done. That is a) not a very healthy mindset, and b) not something that is really possible with two kids.

**Side note, but relevant- I am also one of those people who can’t slow down/rest while there is a mess or clutter. It’s all got to be cleaned up and put away before I feel like I can sit down.***

My goal by the end of the first week was to have the house 75-80% completed. I would say as of writing this post (Sunday afternoon), we are at around 60%. No big deal. We’ve got most of the main floor done, minus décor/final touches, and we’ve got pretty much all of the second floor done, again, minus décor/final touches. In some ways I’m feeling really good about where things stand this afternoon. In fact, as I am sitting here, cataloging the rooms in our house, I am getting a little relieved at how much has actually been done.

BUT I know that the moment I walk all the way down the stairs, down to the basement, I’ll be feeling a different type of way. It’s the one area of the house that hasn’t really been touched. In one way it’s because it is a lot of the décor stuff, which we aren’t doing until the end, but also because it is where the things that we don’t know what they are, or don’t know where to put them, go. It’s the stomping ground for everything that doesn’t have an “official” spot yet. And it has quickly devolved into a catastrophe. It’s a catastrophe that is going to be handled this week.

All of the above to say that moving has been the most incredible, exhausting, exciting thing ever. It’s been fun to basically design the interior of our new home, to feel all of the good vibes flowing through our house (this may sound a little out there depending on how you think, but I truly just feel like this house has such a good feeling to it, felt it when we walked through the first time, when we got our keys and off and on throughout the unpacking), but it’s also been absolutely exhausting on both a physical and mental level.

In all the heyday of moving and the excitement of our new home, being in a foreign country, traveling all over, we forget that moving is HARD. There is a lot going on, a lot of sorting, of unpacking, of setting things up. And while I’ve been so excited to set everything up, to find the right spot for all of our furniture (and nick knacks and artwork when that time comes), I’m also sitting here, almost a week in wondering what the hell has happened over the past week.

I know it’s a phase. I know it’s coming to an end. I know we’ve been able to accomplish so much in the short few days we’ve been here. And I know, at the end of this it will feel so good to just be settled and be able to go on vacation and relax. But first we have to get to that point. One cup at a time (which I am brewing a plenty of cups).

It’s the first of July and even though we are not done unpacking, I am hopeful that we are past the worst of it, that we can have this first day of a new month serve as a fresh start. That we can start getting our actual routine back. That I can breathe and start finalizing the little details for our trip this month. I’m feeling positive. Basically: That light at the end of the move tunnel is shining really bright.

So, there’s my current status. I don’t really know if this has made any sense at all. If you’ve moved recently, let me know how it went for you! Also, let me know if you are a go, go, go kind of person or a take the needed breaks kind of person.

June In Travel – All the Ruins and Hikes

So, June has come to an end…what?! I remember posting earlier in the month that I couldn’t believe that the year was already halfway over and I am still heavily into that mindset. How are we already at this point in 2019? How are we already in 2019? I’m at a crisis point over here just thinking about how much time has already passed…

But that is not what we are here for today, so we will just put that thought to the side.

Today I am going to be re capping our month in travel, which to be honest is only mildly exciting this month. We have a very big travel month next month and have been preparing to move to our house for most of June (because somehow during our time in the hotel we managed to accumulate stuff, mostly books, and that all had to be packed up and moved). Originally we thought we were going to be moving into our house mid June, but that changed and we scrambled to find some weekend activities.

All that to say, that while we didn’t travel far, we managed to find quite a few fun/interesting things to do with our weekends.

I’ve always been really fascinated with ruins. I love to imagine what was, what could have been, what happened on the site, what the people living there were like, etc. It’s the nostalgia, the idea, the dreams of a different era and way of living. Ruins here are also great because a lot of the sites are open enough for the boys to run around and through the different passageways. It gives them a chance to stretch their legs, and learn how people used to live.

We have quite a few ruins in our nearby area and since the weather was nice, we decided to make those weekends into ruins weekends. We did two sites and then a third hike through the hills behind our house. I’ve got a couple more castles and ruins on my list that I hope to head to over the next couple months after we get back in town from vacation.

The first ruins site that we went to is the one that is closest and is also the one that we had to do a nice little hike up to. This is definitely more “ruins” than building, but we were able to see the barest outlines of what was and head up one of the turrets to see a beautiful overlook. After the ruins, we took another short hike through a nature preserve that we actually plan on going back to complete the full hike as it is a couple hours long.

The second site is Wolfstein Castle which is much more building structure and has a pretty good layout of what the castle actually looked like in its “heyday”. I think this might have been my favorite spot so far as it has so many little crevices and spots to look through. You can go through all sorts of good little rooms and areas. There is also a “turret” or tower that you can climb up to, although we don’t really know the rules for that and it wasn’t open when we were there. It has some beautiful overlooks of the city and there wasn’t a huge hike to get up there. As for castle ruins, right now it’s at the top of my very short list.

The final thing that we did was a short hike in the hills behind our hotel. We have been really outdoors this past month, choosing to be outside and walk as much as we can, but we decided to do something beyond our long walk to the park. We headed up the hills, in the woods, and off to a religious site. Now, religion is big here, so that wasn’t surprising, but the actual spot that we hiked to was so beautiful. I didn’t manage to get a lot of good shots of the actual spot because it was the top of a rock and trying to track both kids on the top of a rock is not good. But, trust me the whole hike was just wonderful!

And that was our month “in travel”. Definitely a little bit different than previous months, but still a really fun one! Next month we will be spending half the month in different countries so that’ll be an exciting month for us! Moving forward our travel will be changing a little bit due to my husbands schedule, so the Month in Travel posts might change a little bit, but I hope to still have a lot to share even if it is more local spots like these.