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!

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.

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.

A Cuppa Cosy Heads International – A Home of Our Own

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This picture pretty much summarizes my feelings today 🙂

Today is THE DAY. The day that we finally get the keys to our home. The day that our move to Germany becomes really real. The day that we can start to truly feel settled and home in our area.

If you haven’t been following along with our adventures, earlier this year we embarked on an international move from America to Germany. We’ve spent close to 4 ½ months in the hotel at this point, and have been without our “home comforts” (aka all of our stuff…) 5 ½ months. We’ve been incredibly lucky with our hotel situation, being in a hotel apartment (basically a 1 bedroom apartment) and being able to travel at every opportunity.

*You can read all those posts HERE, HERE, and HERE.*

Overall, our hotel time hasn’t not been that bad. We’ve had a couple rough spots here and there, but, as with anything else, it is all about your attitude. We’ve been able to stay positive and look at all the good things about our time in the hotel and that has helped us…not want to go crazy in such a small space with our things.

Even though it has been a positive experience, I’m very happy to be leaving. We got the opportunity about a month ago to walk through our house and get an idea of floor plans, location, and just a sense of what we were working with. Since that point it’s been very much a time of just wanting to be in our house for us and for the boys. Our older son, Colton, asks just about everyday if we are going to the house and they are ready to have the room to stretch their legs (not to mention finally get all of their toys).

Honestly, for me I am just looking forward to getting our new home set up, arranging everything just so, and getting that “finally settled” feeling. I am looking forward to cooking full, healthy meals and on the cooler days baking. I’ve been missing being able to clean the way I want to clean, and having the space to have a good full morning routine. I’ve missed late evenings on our couch, with an evening cuppa, and a show on tv/book in my hand.

So, today is our big day. All of our household items start coming in tomorrow and the next day, and we will be spending the next week (or so) getting everything set up and settled. We are on a bit of a time crunch due to travel, but I’m also just one of those people who just does everything right then and there (can’t rest until it is all set up and done). I CAN’T WAIT.

There will be one final post in this series, once the dust has finally settled to wrap up all of our experiences/ give tips for folks who are looking at the same type of move.

Introverted Like Me

Fun fact: I’m an introvert.

Now, if you’re wondering, “But Mia, how is that possible?” “You’re always talking and sharing and seem so outgoing”. (You’re probably not wondering any of those things, but just in case…)

Fun fact #2: Introversion and Extroversion is not how you interact, BUT how you recharge. What feeds you. There is more to it than just that, such as how you prefer conversations, large groups, small groups, what your conversation consists of, etc, BUT the basics of it is how you recharge.

I HAVE to have that solo time. I recharge in the peace and quiet on my own. If I am  around people and crowds for too long I become stressed and irritable and if I don’t get that chance for quiet I get downright angry (and honestly-mean).

Here’s the thing- I can be a very social person. I do enjoy meeting people, talking to people, hanging out with friends, and even enjoy our very loud playgroup time. BUT these situations exhaust me by the time they are done. Once it is done and I can get a little piece of quiet in my own home to recharge my batteries, I feel better. That is introversion in a way that you may not recognize.

Another aspect of introversion is your friendships and conversations. I will get into this more in a post coming up, but a lot of time introverts have small friend groups, preferring one on one or two conversation  than a large group of people. I honestly have never been one to have a “large group” of friends and, aside from a random high school moment (because who doesn’t have one of those), I’ve never cared about being popular and talking to every single person.

I say all of this because there is so much pressure in our society today to always be outgoing, to talk to every single person, to have a large group (or following) to back you up. . It is something that our society recognizes as success and that if this is not you, you are not (or will not) be successful.

I tried to be the outgoing person, talking to everyone, calling everyone a friend, constantly trying to do things and it just wasn’t working for me. So, I changed what I was trying to do to meet everyone else’s expectations, to what would actually work for me. You know what happened? I was happier, had better friendships (that were actually real friendships), and felt more like myself.

You don’t need to always be getting out, talking to every person around trying to make lasting friendships from everyone (unless that is what you want and what works for you).

You do need to make sure that you are doing what works for you.

And, if you are anything like me, that means maybe a little social- attending playgroup, story time and the like for the kids, coffee with a friend or two for myself- and a little rest and recharge at home.

2019 Halfway Check In

Somehow we are now halfway through 2019! Where has the year gone? Have you had any exciting things happen so far? Any goals completed? Any new goals created?

This morning I am going to be doing a little “check in” post. I am going to look at what I planned and wanted for my 2019 and see where I am personally at. I think June is a really fun month, but also a good time to just take a minute and reflect on where we are at in our year. How any of the goals we’ve set are going. I would encourage you to do the same and share in the comments! We can always use a little pick me up and accountability.

So, I shared a post at the start of January all about the things that I was “Looking Forward to in 2019”, you can read that post HERE. In this post I talked about my “phrase” and my “word” of the year. I didn’t share my smaller goals for the year, but I’ll share a couple of those in this post as well.

I think overall I’ve done pretty well at sticking with the intentions that I set for myself, achieving a good number of things throughout the first half of this year, but I’ve definitely put one goal off and have kind of fallen off track in a couple other spots. I’ll get more into that a little later on, we will focus on the good first. 🙂

So, something I wanted to focus a little bit more on this year on a larger scale was to just “Be Open”. Be open to new opportunities, be open to new friendships, new experiences, to whatever the year brings our way. I feel like I’ve really done this at this point in the year. I’ve tried to throw caution to the wind in some respects and I feel like it has really worked out in our favor (specifically when it comes to our traveling, and our day to day getting out). I said that I specifically wanted to “Keep an open mind to everything and kind of just run with it”. I’m a type A, planner kind of person and so just go with it is something that I am always working on. When we are doing these quick trips, just go with it is the perfect motto to have.

The smaller intention that went along with that was “You can’t plan everything”. I’ve really been working hard at this one. I get really…”uncomfortable” if I feel like things are chaotic (that’s just a nice way of saying I go a little bonkers if I feel like I don’t have things planned properly). If I feel like I haven’t gotten things planned and in just the right order. I wanted to just let go as that was really starting to affect different areas of my mental health. I wanted to get a little looser with schedules, a little looser with timelines, just loosen up with planning. Again, I feel like I’ve really excelled at this one. First off, being in a hotel means that routines and schedules (other than bedtime) just go out the window. We just get out of the hotel and whenever things happen they happen. Not to mention we’ve been doing so much go, go , go travel that I’ve really just had to loosen all the reigns on planning. It’s been so FREEING.

I will say- at the beginning of the year I struggled a little bit. At the end of 2018 I resigned my job and for the first time in my adult life I was aimless in my time. I didn’t have a job that I had to do for so many hours a day. I was able to do what I wanted with my time and my kids. We weren’t tied down to a schedule. And that was HARD to adjust to in a way. On top of that we went from my In-Laws and vacation to a hotel. The things that I would normally do throughout the day, handling the home, tidying, writing, were now in limbo. I could write, but cleaning and everything else that I would normally do was nonexistent. I’m going to be the weird one and say that I actually quite like housework, so this was an adjustment in itself. I ended up figuring out something that worked for me, but it’ll be changing again here shortly (yay!!).

Moving forward with those two intentions I am going to try and come up with a perfect “marriage” that works for me. The ratio of rigid to flow, planning to loose, and see if I can’t find a way to bring a little bit of planning and routines (beyond bedtime) back into our lives. To become a little bit more intentional with my days that we aren’t traveling.

Now, for my word of 2019 I chose “Explore” and I feel like I’m really living that word. We’ve gone around so much just in the short months we’ve been in Germany, not just in our own little community but around Germany and Europe as well. We have plans for just about every long weekend for the rest of this year, as well as our two extended leave periods this year.

When I originally picked this word, I knew that we would be doing a lot of traveling, but I really wanted to focus on exploring with just me and the boys. We didn’t “get out” as much as I had hoped in the previous couple years and with our move I didn’t want to just get back into that “sit at home” type of living. Our boys love exploring and being outside and I want to nurture that love. This meant that I had to be comfortable leaving and going to bigger area’s with just myself and the kids. I have successfully done one market with just me and the boys and have plans for a couple other spots in the coming months to do for us. We also get out and do long walks at least once or twice a week, and one trip to the local town as well. It’s been actually really easy to do, and we’ve really enjoyed “mommy and son trips”.

Some of the other personal goals that I set for myself are one’s that I set quietly every year, eating clean and healthy options, staying in a positive mindset and spreading that positivity, not being judgmental of others and not getting caught up in the petty little problems/drama. I think I’ve done pretty well with all of those but one…

Junk food. Junk food has really crept back in to our lives and it’s not something that I am happy about. I’ve prided myself the past year or two on eating healthy options, cutting out a lot of processed food and junk food, but lately it’s found a place back in our hotel. I could give excuse after excuse of why, but honestly that’s not important. We don’t eat a lot of it, but I feel like we are at the cusp of eating more of it than we should. Chips, candy, sweets, it all needs to be taken back a couple of notches. I am already in a mindset of tailing it back and we’ve already put this in practice as of June 1, but to be completely transparent I wanted to share that.

The other goal that I had that I didn’t share is the goal of starting a podcast this year. Unfortunately, I have made the decision to postpone this goal for a little while longer. I don’t think that it will be a feasible option this year and I also don’t know that I can take on another project at this time. It’s ok to postpone or stop a goal that is doing something negative for you or is just not a possibility for you at that time. Sometimes things don’t work out and that’s ok.

So that is my look at 2019 so far. How is your year going? How are those goals going?