The news has been terrible lately. Terribly sad. Terribly upsetting. Terribly confusing. I can’t believe a lot of the news stories I’m reading about the Las Vegas shooting, about the unrest in Barcelona and how Americans don’t seem to be pulling together, but rather ripping each other apart. No matter your political affiliation, I think (hope) we can all agree that the state of the world is not positive and things need to change. And they should change sooner rather than later.
But I, like others, feel stuck and don’t know what to do. Sure, I could look up my Congress representative (which state do I look up if I’m living in Germany, I don’t know) or sign a petition, but that doesn’t seem like enough. I honestly don’t know what to do. I just know that I should continue to live my best life, to make changes at home for a better future, to keep a smile on my face and to focus on the positive things. I do believe that we should focus on the things we can change, like our attitudes, our opinions, our willingness to change and what news we read or watch.
Sometimes when the world sucks, I find myself leaning into silly things that make me happy, like the housewives, funny memes, entertainment stories and long walks with the dog listening to a silly podcast.
I hope this blog helps bring some sunshine to your day because that’s what I want it to be. But I just wanted to share some thoughts on the horrific news about Las Vegas. My thoughts and prayers are with those affected.
What do you do when the world seems to come crashing down?
And just like that, another month is over and we are entering a new season. I absolutely love fall. I love boots, scarves, leaves changing, the fact that it’s wine harvest and pumpkins. This month has definitely started to feel chillier and it’s darker outside in the morning and getting darker earlier. And I love it!
Now that it’s October, I thought I would share my favorites from this past month! So, here we go.
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Launching new travel & life abroad pages
I have been working on updating my blog and how it’s all organized. This month I finally finished and launched my new travel and life in Germany pages! Now you can see all the posts relating to these topics in one neat, clean place. I’ve organized the travel page by country, so if you’re traveling somewhere or planning a trip, you can easily find what we did, where we ate, etc! And if you’re interested in moving abroad or what life is like in Germany, you can more easily check that out, too. I hope you like it. Leave me a comment if you’d like to see something added to these pages, like post ideas.
I stepped up my game with meal planning and branching out with new recipes this month. I still have a long way to go but I am putting forth the effort to eat healthier (most of the time) and to not waste as much food. I have been using Pinterest to find a lot of recipes and just got some new glass containers (similar here), which make meal planning and prepping more fun!
Reese Witherspoon’s Glamour article
I love Reese Witherspoon and always have. I love her even more now that she’s speaking out on ambition for women and creating a space in Hollywood where powerful women are accepted. What’s not to love about that message?
The Influencer Podcast
I am obsessed with this podcast. It’s from Julie Solomon, a famous publicist, who brings together all types of influencers to share their successes and tips on being successful. An influencer is someone who has trust with their audience and can influence purchasing decisions. I am learning so much from the podcast and if you have your own business, blog or just want some life success tips, I definitely recommend it!
A chocolate cappuccino
How good does this look? OMG. I went out for coffee with some friends and I ordered a chocolate cappuccino. It’s exactly like it sounds and was the most delicious thing ever. I will seriously order it again…and again…and again.
Another favorite this month is reading a ton. I shared my latest book reviews a few weeks ago in case you missed it!
What are your favorites from September?
I haven’t shared goals or bucket lists for a really long time. The last one was in the spring and I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t done all of the things on the list! I haven’t been to the Stuttgart TV Tower or visited the Ludwigsburg Palace, two of the things that I wanted to do two seasons ago. Oops. I guess all of our travel got in the way!
This fall, I want to set some goals and then actually do them. A shocking concept, I know, but one that is much easier said than done. We are halfway done with our time in Germany and we want to make sure we are using our time to the fullest. And fall in Europe is just perfection. It’s a great time to visit because the crowds are down, the weather is perfect for strolling and prices aren’t as expensive. So, here we go, my 2017 European fall bucket list!
Ludwigsburg Palace & Pumpkin Fest
Visiting the palace was on my list in the spring and I definitely want to make that happen before this year is over. There are 6 tours on Saturdays and Sundays in English, so there really is no excuse for not going.
And now that it’s fall, it’s time for the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival. We went last year and it was so much fun. It’s the world’s largest pumpkin festival and it’s right in our backyard, so cool. The theme of the pumpkins changes every year and this year the theme is Rome. Plus, we get to put Copley in her pumpkin costume. What’s not to love?
Stuttgart TV Tower
Adding this to the list again. Vinn and I love going to the top of anything when we’re traveling, so why not do it in our own city? The TV Tower provides great views of Stuttgart and there’s even a restaurant that serves brunch on Sunday. That would be fun to do one Sunday when we don’t have anything on the agenda.
Read 5 books
This is a lofty goal but I think I can do it. I want to finish reading the three remaining books from my summer reading list and then start a new fall list. I do love curling up in a blanket with a homemade latte (thanks, Nespresso!) and reading. And, of course, Copley is there, too.
Visit a vineyard
We are going to Tuscany for our anniversary at the end of October/beginning of November, so this will be an easy one to tackle. There’s something about a vineyard that makes me happy, probably because that’s where wine is made, but it’s deeper than that. I think I love the vines, that everyone who works at one seems to be so happy all the time and the foliage in the fall just can’t be beat. This should probably make the list every fall!
Take a family photo
I don’t necessarily think these need to be professional photos but it would be nice to have a more professional looking picture of our family. I love this weather and want to find a day where we can visit a park around the golden hour and snap a few pictures. Thanks to the self-timer on my camera, I think I’ll be able to do it!
What do you want to accomplish this fall?
We have been in our apartment for a year and a half now and it is definitely home. The apartment is not at all what we were expecting to get but it’s worked out really well. We live in a converted house that now has three apartments. We live on the top floor, our landlord lives below us and there’s a smaller apartment in the basement. For a video tour, you can check out this post.
It was updated right before we moved in, which is really great and we have 1.5 bathrooms, a pretty unheard of perk in Germany. We have all the essentials and some nice amenities, like a balcony, but there are some things that are quite different about living in an apartment in Germany than our apartment in Michigan. Today, I thought I’d share some of those differences.
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1, Quiet Hours & Weekly Cleaning
Most apartments have a set time during the day designated for quiet hours. Our apartment’s is between 1 PM and 4 PM and basically means that we shouldn’t be doing anything too loud like vacuuming or nailing things into the walls. It also means you shouldn’t be mowing the lawn or anything super loud outside.
In the same realm of quiet hours, our apartment also has a weekly cleaning list. This means that everyone in the apartment takes turns per week cleaning the common areas, like the stairs, laundry room, etc. It’s something different and is actually something that I’ve heard is specific to our area of Germany.
2, More converted homes to apartments than apartment complexes
Large apartment complexes with 20 or 30 different buildings of apartments just don’t exist here. There’s one complex close to us but it probably only has about 10 buildings and was built last year. Many people live in an apartment that has been converted from a house. It’s so interesting to see all the different designs and architectures of where people live. There are some large apartment buildings but it’s just one building.
3, Hardwood floors only
No carpet ANYWHERE! None of our friends have carpet, we don’t have carpet, hardwood floors rule. There’s also tile in the kitchen and bathroom. I really love the look of the hardwoods, which are usually light wood and not dark, but cleaning them is tough. I run the vacuum cleaner and then have to wash the floors. It’s a two-step process that I hate. But Copley seems to love the hardwoods.
4, Listings are by number of rooms
When you’re searching for an apartment, the listings will show the number of rooms total and not like a two bed/1 bath apartment. For example, we have a one bedroom apartment with a living room and dining room. Our apartment listing said this was a three room apartment because the calculations don’t include bathrooms or the kitchen.
I would have loved to have a more open concept apartment and a separate guest room, but whatever. It will make us appreciate our house some day.
5, Cold v. Warm rent
Similarly, apartments can also have cold or warm rents. The difference is if utilities are included or not. We have warm rent, so our rent includes electricity, heat and water. The company comes to measure our usage every 6 months and we either receive money back or owe money. So far, we’ve gotten money back, which is great!
6, Open bathrooms
Our full bathroom is totally open. There’s no separation between the toilet, bathtub or shower. The glass for the shower also doesn’t come out far enough so water from the shower sprays. I love how the big the bathtub is but I’ve probably used it three times since we’ve been here. I know this is a trivial, but I wish we had a tub/shower combo and had more storage space in the bathroom.
7, Zero closets
Speaking of storage space, there aren’t any closets! Our bedrooms doesn’t have any closet at all, so we have two IKEA wardrobes there and then another wardrobe in our dining room. We do have a little linen type closet in the hallway that stores our cleaning supplies and ironing board, but that’s about it. It’s a far cry from the walk-in closet we had in our Michigan apartment.
8, Kitchens with a door
Many German apartments have the old style layouts and their kitchens are separated from the other rooms. Out kitchen even had a door on it. And the door opened to where the fridge is, so you couldn’t have the door open and get to the fridge. The first thing I did when we moved in was take down that darn door!
9, Concrete Walls
The house that our apartment is in has concrete walls. This does help keep it cool in the summer and resistant to water and fire, but it doesn’t make hanging a picture super easy. We had to use a hammer drill to hang our picture frames and then had to vacuum up the dust.
10, No air conditioning
I know I’ve talked about this a lot but there’s no air conditioning. I would say 90% of the time it’s not a big deal because it gets really cool at night so we open the doors. But there’s about two weeks that absolutely suck. In August, we had some 90 degree days that were just miserable. I survived, obviously, but I would certainly love some air conditioning.
11, Really cool windows
This is super random, but I want to mention how cool the windows are! They can tilt, so they let in air but aren’t open all the way. I love to do this when it’s not super hot but I’d like to have some fresh air or while I take a shower since we don’t have a fan in there. I also love our blinds because they are black out blinds that are automatic and electric that I would love to utilize in an American house.
That’s it! I know soon enough we’ll be back in the States and be spending all kinds of money on air conditioning, so I am going to enjoy this (hot!) time.
What’s different about your current place compared to your last place?
When most people think of Germany, the first thing they think of is usually beer. Beer has been around in Germany since the 12th century and is a huge part of German culture. And how do Germans celebrate their beer culture, with beer festivals, of course!
On Saturday night, Vinn and I went to Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart with 8 friends. Volksfest is the second largest beer festival in the world, only behind Oktoberfest.
Some history about the festival: it started in 1818 by King Wilhelm I of Wuerttemburg and his wife Katharina and is attended by 4 million people every year, with over 300 tents and stands on the grounds. The tents are filled with beer tables where visitors drink liters of beer, eat chicken, listen to live music and dance on the tables. Basically, it’s a big party where the traditional dress for men is lederhosen and dirndls for women.
We had an absolute blast on Saturday night. And now that I’ve been through a traditional German beer festival, I thought I’d share everything you need to know when it comes to surviving one, especially things I wish I’d known before going.
Wear the right thing.
If you are wearing “street clothes,” you will stick out like a sore thumb. And part of the fun is dressing right. You can buy these online before you come and there’s a wide range of prices. For women, dirndls are the way to go and you need to buy the dress and the blouse separately. These should fit pretty tightly but they are so cute that it doesn’t matter! When you tie your bow, make sure you tie it in the right spot. If you’re married or taken, tie your bow on the right hand side. It signals to the men that you aren’t available. If your bow is on the left that means you’re single and in the center is for children or women who are “open.” Isn’t that fun! For men, lederhosen are the way to go. There are a bunch of options, including shorts or capris, suspenders or a vest and a colored checkered shirt. Blue is the most popular in our area.
Book your table in advance.
Each tent has tables that are available for reservation either over lunch or dinner. A reservation includes your table for 10 people, 4 beer tokens and a 1/2 chicken for dinner. Tents book quickly, so it is important to do this super in advance. Our table was perfectly located because it wasn’t far from the bathrooms and we could somewhat see the main stage.
Wear comfortable shoes.
The grounds of Volksfest (and all beer festivals) are huge, so you will definitely be doing some walking. But more importantly, the biggest part of the experience is dancing on the tables. And you will want to be wearing flat shoes. When you’re short like me, this doesn’t sound appealing, but, trust me, you will want to be wearing flats!! P.S. this picture is me standing on the bench and my friend, Stephanie, is sitting. That’s how short I am!
There are rides all around the grounds, too.
I’m not one for the carnival type rides but if they’re up your alley, this is the place to come. There’s ferris wheels, roller coasters, the ride that goes really high and then drops and more. There are games, too, like a Catholic summer festival on steroids.
It’s important to bring your Euro coins with you! You need to tip your waitress with each beer and when he/she brings your dinner. Then you probably also need coins to use the bathroom. Even though parts of the night are prepaid, it’s always a good idea to bring small coins and bills just in case.
Overall, just come prepared to have a great time. Brush up on your 80’s music lyrics, do some bicep curls because those liters are heavy and leave room for chicken and beer. We had a great time and can’t wait to go back in the spring and next fall!