Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pork Fried Rice

Alright guys here is the Pork fried rice I make. 

This recipe is a variation of the original from Kai, Cooking with Kai, on youtube. You can view the original video here

You will need:
3 cups cooked rice cold (I cook mine the day before and refrigerate)
2 eggs
500 gram minutes steaks (thin pork chops) cut into thin strips
2-3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic chopped
dash of ground ginger
1 carrot diced
1 onion diced
1 stalk celery diced
1/2 can corn

Start with a preheated wok. Add in oil and then the garlic, let brown a minute and then add the onion, cook until caramelized. 

Add the pork and cook until done, about 3-5 minutes. Scoot to one side of the pan.

On the other side crack in and scramble your two eggs. When fully cooked mix in with the pork.

Add in the vegetables and let cook for about a minute. Then add rice to the mix. 

Add in salt, sugar, ginger, and soy sauce. Mix together and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Deutsche Bahn special- Nationwide unlimited travel 20 euro

Deutsche Bahn is running a 20 year Unification special on October 2& 3. You can get  nationwide unlimited travel for one day for 20 Euro including ICE trains, but the travel can only be booked on the 2nd or 3rd.

You can travel any time between October 3rd and 23rd with the tickets

They are valid one day until 10 pm

Travel in the second class only

No date changes possible

Buchen Sie Ihr Ticket am 2. und 3. Oktober und fahren Sie vom 3. bis 23. Oktober 2010 durch ganz Deutschland! Tickets gibt es nur solange der Vorrat reicht. Das Ticket gilt f├╝r die einfache Fahrt in der 2. Klasse, auch im ICE. Sie legen sich bei der Buchung bereits auf einen bestimmten Zug fest.

Check it out here 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Living room tour

Now that we have our living room furnished and it looks dramatically different I wanted to share with you. I still have a few things that need to be done such as finding some things to hang on the walls, and getting pictures printed and hung, but this will still give you an inside peak.

I took these photos on Saturday before we had guests so that is why the tables are all set.

This is the right hand side of the living room. You see Toni on his computer lol. This is our new couch we got it on sale from Beirstorffer for 299 euro, which is dirt cheap compared to the 500 and up we were seeing before hand. It is really big and comfy and the end piece on the right can be matched up to create a sofa bed. 

On the back wall is Christmas light from before we had a light, not a crack lol. You also see our coffee table, tv and tv stand, lamp, and on the very left a bookcase where we keep movies, computer games, and cds. 

The lamp, coffee table, those white half window curtains, the blue small throw pillows were all gifts from my friend Diane who moved back home and was kind enough to give us tons of stuff from her apartment. 

This is now looking the other way. You see our table, the big cupboard, and on the left a small little cupboard and a oil radiator. 

We got that radiator because our built in radiator is a peice of junk, it does not even heat the room, this works amazingly well. 

The big cupboard and small white one on the left were also gifts from Diane. The wood chairs we were give by hubbys grandma. And the table was bought second hand I believe, he got it before I came and it came with the two blue chairs. 

Oh and that is our birds on the top right side. You can also see the light from a second window on the right hand side.

Oh here is looking in from near the door. You can see the table all set. Normally just the two blue chairs are there and it is pushed up against the wall, but we had some visitors. Behind that you see the window and to the right the book case I mentioned. I also keep some of the few mementoes I brought from home there, including a picture of my grandma, grandparents, and from my parents wedding day, and my ultrasound pictures. 

Here is a better look at the cupboard. I would like to eventually shift the cupboard down and turn the bookcase so it is on that same wall, but that thing is huge and heavy so it will have to wait. 

The bookcase I was given by my friend Samantha before she moved to Hong Kong. On the very top you see an airplane that is an old toy from the ddr from my husbands childhood. The book case holds hubbys comics, magazines I get sent from home, and books i get from trading with friends or book swapping sites. 

On the big cupboard on the top left there are 4 small bookshelf like cubbies in one section I keep my homemaking binder and cooking binder, next one is my homemaking books and cookbooks, then my religious books and my books about learning german. Below that the door drops down and I use that area as a desk. Underneath is some shelf space with serving dishes and board games. 

The middle cupboard is glassware and a few nicknacks, most also given to us by Diane. That blue maountain painting is from my dad he painted it and sent it to me. It has 2 medium drawers below that are empty as of now. 

Then to the left is a section where we keep our dishes- glasses, coffee cups, plates, bowls, ect. And the birds sit on top. 

Then on the very bottom are three big drawers one with painting supplies and another with card making things and the last office supplies. 

 This is the other side by the door. You see the small cupboard. It has a drawer underneath with a punch bowl and some serving dishes. Then a cd player, and the top 3 drawers are just junk drawers at the moment. I was given then and the cd player by Diane.

To the right is the computer desk we got this on sale at aldi for around 30 euro fits great. It holds the computer and printer. That leather chair I got from my integration course teacher when she bought a new chair, and its real leather.

You can also see our soda stream on the desk. I got that on clearance I think for 15 euro or so at rewe.

You also see those little brown doors they go to the kitchen. Hanging on it is some juniper beads and a medicine bag I brought from home. Plus you see the christmas lights and a lantern. We need to take those down or hand them up higher so it looks better. Everyone asks in pictures if that is a crack lol.

We have really been blessed with a lot of hand me downs that have turned our house into a home, I am so grateful.

I will point out more items that were gifts as we tour the rooms. :)

Keep an eye out for new kitchen, hall, outside and entry, and bedroom picks, as well as the story about how we paid it forward. The bedroom one probably will not be posted until I get the baby area all set up, I want to show the finished products :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sundays in my city

Alright its that time again, and today you get a bonus 3 in1.

Unknown Mami

So lets start out with my original pictures for today.

Yesterday the crib arrived and today we set it up. It has a few rough spots in the paint that need to be sanded, but otherwise is great. You can also see the design. I am not sure if I did the bumper right if it is supposed to be packed in by the mattress or not, I need to read about that somewhere. I am still waiting for the sheets to come. Then I will wash it all.

I still need to get a few odds and ends for the crib such as a mobile, and a few crib toys. I really like the fisher price soothers that play music but I am not sure if I will get one unless I find it used. They too are not sold here.  

Otherwise just odds and ends. The major things are taken care of. I need a little more shelf room for the baby, and I refuse to spend 300 euro on a baby kleider schrank but I found these and really like them.

Next up, you all know my pregnancy week ends on Sunday which means we are now 28 weeks, only 12 left to go! But here is a surprise, the baby bump in person.

And no do not ask about the plaid pajama pants. GRRRRR. You will be happy to know I brushed my hair and my teeth today. I did have normal pants on earlier, I just go for comfort at home, and only my pajama pants fit under the bump without cutting into the tummy. 

Next up we visited our first kindermarket today. It was mainly clothing and I was in the market for other items, but I did find some things. The clothes has awesome prices and I probably could have gotten a whoel waredrobe in each size for under 20 euro, but again you had to look through tons and tons, and I am focusing on the first 6 months. 

Being my first kindermarket I did not negotiate, even though I probably could have, I was a bit intimidated, but next time I will give it a shot, this time I just turned it down if the price was too high. 

Here is what I found:

Baby tights, yes boys wear tights in Germany. I was given a bunch in the smaller sizes, but I found these bigger ones for 50 cents a pop. 

And then I got these bad boys, real leather moccasins. Leah would be so proud. I got these for 2 euro. 

These were the biggest score a snow suit and a very heavy warm jacket, since our winters are so cold. I got the snow suit for 2,50 and the jacket for  2 euro. 

I got these towels for 2 euro each, and of course further down the line someone else had them for 1 euro oh well. YOu never know, and they would have cost over 10 euro a piece new. I got this three pack of bibs brand new - breakfast, lunch, and dinner for ,80. 

And then I got the little speil uhr for 1 euro and the item below is a pacifier holder for ,50.

I also found a bpa free brand new sippy cup for 1,50. I forgot to take a picture, so I was lazy and took one with my photo booth. ha

So that was my sunday, what did you do today.

Make sure to stop by and check out everyone else at Unknown Mami

Friday, September 24, 2010

How I sort my Recycling & Trash

I recently did a post on the trash and recycling system in German. You got a chance to see how detailed it really is. Therefore I had to find a system that works for my home. Now naturally I could use a container for every variable for the recycling hof, but again there are many I do not need, and it would take my whole living room to have enough bins.

You will need to find the system that works best for you, but here are some ideas based on what I do. You could use these tips anywhere, just alter it to your specific needs.

First things first. Lets talk about container options. As you really have a variety of choices. You can always try to use up what you have in yoru home already or find a new purpose for an older object. 
1. Milk style crates, thin crates, these can be found at any hardware store, bauhaus. I saw them just the other day for around 8 euro a pop. Now that price seems high to me, but they do have their pros as well, they stack super nice and you could therefore have one tall stack in a corner. 
2. Bigger plastic tubs or crates. These will cost more anywhere from say around 10 with a lid at Ikea upwards of 20. 
3. They have standing garbage bag holders, these work really well for things that fit well in trash bags. They cost around 8 euro a piece.
4. You can even use cardboard boxes.
5. Recyclable bags
6. Plastic grocers or garbage bags
7. Or you can buy specialty recycling organizers, they come in all forms some color coded, some wood, other plastic, and the prices vary for 20 up. 

Or any combo of the above. I myself use a combination.

Creating a plan:
Start by looking at yoru local recycling system. Consider how things need to be broken down. Also consider the various bins at the recycling center. Obviously you will not need all of them, some you may only need occasionally, some you have so little it is not worth buying a special bin. 

As an example we will use mine. Go down the list and mark what you recycle the most versus the least. Also note if any of these items can be taken to local community bins. I happen to have one just across the way.

1. Clothing and shoes in good condition- not often, and drop off by house
2. Metal cans- often, bin by house
3. Glass- white, brown, and green- often, bin by house
4. Small electronics- not often
5. Wood- not often
6. Aluminum- - often
7. Styrofoam- not often
8. Metal- not often
9. Plastic bottles- - often
10. Plastic containers-  most common
11. Cardboard- often
12. Plastic under size a4- very often
13. Plastic over size a4- not often
14. Wine corks- never
15. Batteries- ocassionally
16. Drink cartons- often
17. Light bulbs- rarely

Looking at that list there are many items I may have once in a while, but do not need on a regular basis so I focus only on those areas. I also group the recycling for the easiest removal, therefore we do not have to sort it all at the recycling center. 

How I sort mine: 
Community centers:
By my house I have a small recycling center with bins which take all colors of glass, cans, as well as newspapers and advertisements. So I keep those separate. 

Since the glass and cans are easy to sort they go into one large oversized reusable heavy plastic shopping bag. Make sure that you rinse out and dry all containers first before placing it in your recycling to avoid any unwanted guests. 

The newspaper then goes in a bag by itself. I use a cloth reusable grocery bag. I also remove our name and address from anything. 

If I do have clothes to donate, I would just put them in a plastic grocery bag. 

This whole section gets taken out once a week, therefore it only requires a small little corner with a few bags. 

Recycling hof:
The items that I recycle with every visit are: aluminum, plastic bottles, plastic containers, cardboard, plastic wrapping under size a4, and drink cartons.

For the items that I only occasionally have I do not set up a system. I will toss them all together into one large plastic reusable bag to sort at the station. If it is small items such as batteries, I would put them in a baggie inside. 

I base my system around the items I recycle most. The 2 items I recycle the most quantity of are plastic wrapping and plastics containers. Both of these get one standing trash can holder, which generally gets filled. I make sure to wash any items that have food residues first. 

Since much of the aluminum packaging has small pieces, such as candy wrappers it gets its own bag. I use a standard grocery bag. 

For cardboard and paper packaging, I have one assembled box that all the small boxes go inside flattened. Any big boxes would just be folded flat against the wall behind. 

That leaves plastic bottles and drink cartons, both of which along with any strangling glass and metal cans, go into one oversized plastic bag since they are easily sorted. Also make sure these are rinsed so that you avoid that nasty old milk smell. 

So In my recycling area that leaves me with:
2 Standing garbage bags of plastic wrapping and containers
1 box for cardboard
1 normal grocery bag of aluminum (generally sits in the top of the cardboard box)
One oversized bag with plastic bottles and drink cartons
One oversized bag for cans and glass
And one small reusable bag for newspapers

Though it does sound quiet a bit labor intensive it has had a major payoff. Before always had a backlog of garbage. We still occasionally do, but it is not a continual problem. 


Just a quick bit on the remaining trash. 

All my trash has the packaging removed, washed and placed in recycling, so I am dealing with only the left over biodegradable, or the occasional items that are non recyclable. 

1. I sort what I call ew trash. This is things that stink, leak, go bump in the night. The stuff you want to ensure by no means doesn't make it into the trash. This gets priority.

2. I then have non ew trash, things like paper, crafting, odds and ends, scraps, ect that cannot go to the recycling center, but are nt in a time rush to get out as they are not going to harm anything. I fit these in along the side and top right before trash day. If they do not make it no biggie.

This has been a great help, especially on the weeks when we have a bit more trash, or I have not been the best at recycling. It ensures that we are never left with rotting old apples in the house.

A few more tips to reducing your trash:
1. Never bring your trash home, no no I do not mean dump it somewhere or throw it out the window, though way to many people do that here its very sad. I mean if you eat take out and then go to the gas station, utilize that trash can they have out front. Or throw your paper coffee cup out in the trash cans places throughout the city.
2. Throw out the trash from the car when you clean the car, dont bring it home. We keep a small bag in the car and empty it at the car wash every time we was the car. 
3. Most grocery stores offer in store bins for trash, so you don't have to bring it home. Many even have labeled recycling bins and counters to pack your groceries. This way you can eliminate a lot of the excess packaging. 
4. Reuse what you can, I keep all rubber bands and I rewash and reuse most glass jars with a lid, even some plastic ones with lids. Much cheaper then tupperware and great to have on hand when you find yourself in a pinch. I just run mine through the dishwasher and put a new label on the outside. 

The number one waste in our home is packaging, and 9 times out of 10, it is much much more then is practically needed for the items. 

Well if nothing else I hope you had a good laugh at our crazy garbage system. But I also hope it gave you some ideas. I am not a big environmentally friendly person, in all honesty I started because I had to, though I am happy to make my small difference in the world. And once you get a system in place it is really not all that bad. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

If you follow me....

Alright, let me start by saying this is just a rant post, so feel free to skip it and check back for our regular programming lol.

I love blogging, I love it to death. It has become a huge part of my life. I love writing my blog, reading the blogs I follow, commenting on other blogs, joining memes, conversing with my readers, doing collaborations, and most of all building friendships out of my blog.

My blog means so much to me. I adore each and every one of my readers from those who comment religiously, to those I have developed friendships with, even just those who come only to read. But the one thing I love about each and every one of you, is the fact that you care what I have to say. You bring my voice to life. And you are what makes this whole process worth while.

This started out as a travel blog, that I never even posted on, to show my family about my travels. After I moved here it became my way to share my day to day life with family and friends and then I expanded it to include my hobbies, my trail and error learning experiences, anything that crossed my mind, and people enjoyed that.

I write my blog because it gives me purpose. Not because I want to feel popular. Or I need so many people to follow before it means something to me.

So nothing, nothing, annoys me more then this sentence:

If you follow my blog I will follow yours


I am following your blog now follow mine.

I have even gotten angry emails from people demanding to know why I do not follow them. I now make a point when posting on any promotional tools, that I will not do reciprocal following. I will check out anyones blog, especially my readers, but I will only follow it because I want to.

Fir me blogging is not a card game, it is not a popularity contest, you do not have to catch them all. I do not want to follow blogs that are lets say political when I hate politics so much I can't even stand the news. All it does is clog my blog feed so I lose out on the content I really enjoy reading. I would love to have hours a day to read even every homemaking blog in the world, bit even if I started today, I would not touch every blog before my end of days. I am human and I can only do so much. And I do not want to over commit myself because I think that even blog reading is an interactive experience. There are tons of blogs that I read quiet often but do not even follow.

But you know what that means, that means if I do follow your blog it is because I enjoy it. Because I care what you have to say. Reading your blog is a part of my day that brings me great joy.

That right there that is the reciprocation I want, to make others feel that their voice matters. Not the numbers of followers you have.

I think I may have said something about this before, if so sorry, blame it on the pregnancy brain. ha.

I just want to keep the integrity in blogging. And I feel like it is becoming a fad and that upsets me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

101 things in 1001 Days

Well you know me and my love for lists, as well as my utter inability to follow through with new years resolutions, or rather setting myself up to fail. So I decided to try something new called the 101 list. It is 101 tasks to be completed in 1001 days, just short of 3 years.

So this is my list, obviously some things are more probable then others. Day 1 starts today. I am excited to see how much I am able to achieve. I will do an update once a month about how my progress is coming along. In turn my new years resolutions will be scaled back greatly, I think I will limit myself to 12 this year or one per month :P

You can read more about the project and even track your 101 list at Dayzero

Alright, well I like to group by theme as it makes it easier.

Renas 101 list:

1. Finish homemaking binder
2. Create a Recipe Binder
3. Create a Holiday Binder
4. Create an inspiration notebook
5. Teach myself baking and bake 10 things
6. Create a pantry/ stockpile
7. Decorate each room of the house
8. Cook a traditional ddr feast
9. Learn to cook Indian food
10. Assemble an emergency kit for the house

Out and about:
11. Have a picnic
12. Visit 10 castles
13. Visit 10 museums
14. Visit a stage show
15. Visit the German cinema
16. Go on 10 dates with husband
17. Go to the zoo
18. Visit 10 kindermarkets and 10 flohmarkets
19. Go to a concert
20. Go to a middle age festival
21. Join the library

22. Cook a traditional thanksgiving dinner and invite guests
23. Homemake Christmas gifts
24. Cook a traditional Christmas dinner
25. Send Christmas Cards
26. Build a gingerbread house

27. Visit Paris and the Louve Museum
28. Fly home for a visit
29. Visit Munish
30. Visit Georgia (family friend)
31. Visit Minau
32. Visit Dachau
33. Visit London
34. Visit Ost or Nord see

35. Try mail art (10)
36. Swap 10 postcards
37. Write one letter home per month, altering the recipients
38. Try package swapping 10 times
39. Reach 250 blog followers
40. Then create my own site on my own server with design
41. Get my mac repaired

For the future:
42. Create a Time capsule for luka
43. Write a letter for myself to open in 10 years
44. Move into a new place
45. Establish an emergency savings fund in germany of 500 euro
46. Establish an emergency savings fund in the US of 500 dollars
47. Pay off 5 debts in the US
48. Pay off 4 debts in Germany
49. Apply for an ausbildung
50. Get my german drivers license
51. Ship 10 more boxes from home
52. Put aside 20 euro for each task completed
53. Open a retirement account

54. Create photo albums for 2009 and 2010
55. Finish my pregnancy journal
56. Make a baby book for Luka
57. Make a baby book for Toni
58. Have professional photos taken
59. Make a belly cast
60. Make a list of 100 reasons why I love my husband
61. Pick 5 people who have greatly influenced my life and write them

Learnings fun:
62. Finish my degree
63. Reach level c1 German
64. Take a class at the VHS
65. Learn to drive stick shift
66. Learn to swim
67. Take a cooking course or class

68. Have a baby shower
69. Throw Luka a birthday party
70. Throw Toni a birthday party
71. Throw myself a birthday party
72. Host a frauentag with my former class mates
73. Have an overnight/ weekend guest
74. Throw a dinner party
75. Have a movie marathon
76. Have a tea party

Baby Love:
77. Join a play group
78. Take a class with Luka
79. Teach Luka baby signing

80. Read the bible in its entirety
81. Baptize Luka
82. Find a church to join
83. Complete 50 questions that could free your mind
84. Keep a yearly journal with at least one entry per week

85. Read 10 classic books
86. Read 10 banned books
87. Read 101 books
88. Watch 101 Films
89. Purge and refill my Ipod
90. Read all Dean Koontz books currently in circulation
91. Read the Anne of Green Gables Series

Body works:
92. Get a Massage
93. Drop back to my prebaby weight
94. Try acupuncture
95. Get extra dental insurance

Look what I made:
96. Teach myself to sew and buy a sewing machine make 10 things
97. Try knitting and crotchet make 1 of each
98. Teach myself to paint (at least try)

Better start saving:
99. Buy a combi fridge or freezer
100. Buy a good camera
101. Buy a bigger bed

If you decide to make a list too, leave me the link. I would love to see what your 101 goals are. I will even include the link here in the post.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bathroom tour

In the time I have been here I have never once shared pictures of my bathroom. Perhaps because normally it is the most unorganized room of the house. So 2 years after the fact. Here is my bathroom tour lol. 

I do not open all the drawers and everything, so this will not be like a youtube bathroom tour. This is just to show my friends and family, even readers who were curious. :)

This is looking in from the doorway. The floor and walls are all tile. On the right are the shower and bath. The left the sinks, washer, and toilet. And of course straight ahead the heater and window.

This is from the other side of the room by the window looking at the door. 

The bath and shower

The sinks and washer, which is covered in cleaning supplies at the moment. I am rearranging the hall cupboard. The green thing under the sink is the baby bath. And this is the new washer I got my friend Diane who moved back to the US, looks great don't it. I should have taken a picture of the before as well, oh well.

Washer and toilet. The toilets here are different. We do not have a lever to flush you push the button in the wall. It is also low pressure and there is no water bin. 

And the bathtub. 

This bathroom is one of the few things I actually love about this apartment. One I do not want to let go of lol. Only thing that would make it better was a bit more counter space, and maybe a better cupboard system under the sink. Oh and a cupboard for towels. Then perfection. :P

Since we have pretty much redone every room in the house I will be posting pics from every room. Some are the same, some radically changed.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sundays in my city- 27 weeks- third trimester woohoo

Unknown Mami

Alright back with another sundays in my city. This also marks week 27, official start of the third trimester. Today we visited Tonis work as they were having a special open house, and his friend asked him to come in as a personal favor to set up a a cash register.

Well of course that meant everyone else felt they could demand his help even though he was not working, including a woman screaming his name at the top of her lungs and following us around until he would fix her printer. Some of these people really amaze me.

Needless to say we did not stay long, crazy lady above, the one who also coordinated the event, is pretty crappy at marketing and so the event was for lack of a better word pretty lame. Going to these make me so reminiscent of the huge health fairs in the US with countless booths, giveaways, and freebies. 

The one cool thing that had was a 2 meter high heart that you could go inside of. So if nothing else, that was worth the hassle to see. :P

Make sure you check out the other bloggers over at Unknown Mami. I also ask that you keep Mami in your thoughts and prayers as she is going through a very hard time right now and can use all the well wishes in the world. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Recycling & Trash in Germany

One of the things I have come to know and love about Germany is that practically every single aspect of life is rather complex and multi facetted. And sure that can be tough at times, but hey you make do right.

So I wanted to make a post about the trash and recycling systems in Germany, not saying it is all inclusive but what I have come across.

Alright. So unfortunately at this point in time I do not have images. Maybe next time I am at the recycling hof I will take pics. When I do that I will make a post on the main page linking back to the new visually improved trash post. 

So lets jump right in and start with the basic trash systems. From what I have come across in apartments there are a variation of combinations, here I will share the 2 I have come across.

1. Major complex with multiple tenants in Thuringia

This one in particular was most like the US. There are major dumpsters for trash and a big blue bin for papers and cardboard. 

Note: I have also seen large complexes with the system described next, so it really does vary per place.

2. Small apartments, or rather apartments built into a single family home, 3 families in Baden- Wuertemburg

Here we have individual trash cans, restmuell, much like you see in rented homes in the US. At the beginning of the year we have to go buy a trash stamp, a small sticker that is placed on the garbage bin. You can choose the size of bin you need, cause you buy it. We for instance will need to purchase a larger one for the bombardment of pampers.

Now you also have additional options:
1. The blue paper bin, Blaue Tonne, this would normally be shared through the whole house, but we all know my landlord is not user friendly, so he hogs it. I am not sure if additional stamps can be bought or not for these. Also, if you live in a complex and have a lot of waste say after moving, it is better to take it to the recycling center, you will find your neighbors rather hostile if not out right calling the hausmeister if you fill up the bins.

2. Bio trash, Bioabfall, just as in normal trash you can also buy stamps. Again our landlord does not share, but you can easily buy your own at the same place you get your trash stamps. This is like a compost in the US, or biodegradable trash as well as lawn clippings. 
Note: Many complexes will have community bins for the aforementioned.

Also each type of bin generally has a different pick up date, they seem to all run on a 2 week cycle and the specific dates can be found in the trash calendar. 

1. There will be a yearly fee for trash. Generally this is included in your nebenkosten (supplemental costs added to your monthly rent). Some landlords are not buy the book, like ours and just show up saying you owe me x for your portion of the bill. However, the aforementioned is the norm. These costs are generally divided based on the number of people in the complex, and then combined to applicable households, ie a family of 5 pays more then the single guys next door. Perhaps some do it just by apartment, but again that was just our experience. 
2. In addition to the yearly trash costs, in many cities, or homes like ours you need the trash stamps, Gebuehrenmarken. They of course vary based on the size of your trash can. We pay about 30 euro for a 60 liter bin. In Heilbronn kreis the prices for the household trash is 20 euros for 40 liters up to 120 euro for 240 liters. The bio trash is cheaper the stamps run 18 euro for 60 liters up to 72 euro for 240 liters. You can also buy one time use stamps.

Spermuell, Elektroschott, and Altmetall:
Spermull is a system I had never seen before. You are given 2 cards per year, for large items that are picked up for free. You send in the card with a list of the items you want to get rid of, and are sent back a date to place everything on the side of the road. These come attached to your yearly trash calendar.
You can dispose of the following with this method:

Spermuell (oversized trash):
Household and garden furniture, lamps and lampshades, suitcases, skis, large toys, beds and mattresses, rugs, strollers and car seats
Do not include:
Household trash, construction materials, chemical waste (paints, ect), normal recyclables, or oil ovens or tanks

Elektroschott (electrical waste):
Large appliances (washers, fridges, microwaves)
Do not include: Small appliances (toaster, keyboards)

Altmetall (Old metal):
Bikes, metal stools, metal canisters, misc metal items
Do not include: Car parts or aresol cans

And of course if you need to get rid of items faster you can go directly to a dump and pay per weight just like in the states. Many times you can take your spermull card directly there and use it. But they do say if it is over 800kg they do charge. 


There are 3 main systems:
1. Community recycling bins
2. The yellow bags
3. The recycling hof
4. Large gardening waste
5. Chemical waste

1. The community centers
These are found in almost every community. Here you can get rid of the most common recyclables. They tend to have bins for the following:
1. Clothing and or shoe donations
2. Newspapers and advertisements
3. Metal cans
4. Glass- white, brown and green

Many times these places are trashed and people abandon garbage here. They also have funny rule like you cannot put out your recycling after 7 pm or on a sunday. 

2. The yellow sacks
These are available in most cities, but not always in small cities. You have to ask when you buy your trash stamps. We did have them in Thuringia, but not here. It is a large yellow sack, you can place many different recyclables in it together and it is picked up every few weeks. Therefore you do not have to sort everything. You are given a sheet of what can go in and it is also displayed on the front of the bags- but offhand this includes drink containers, milk cartons, plastic both hard and soft. These are really nice and I actually miss living in a place with this system.

3. Recycling hof
This one is the big Kahuna. Now it is a resource you can use even if you have the yellow sacks, and there will be times you need to. But for those of us without the yellow sacks, this is pretty much a weekly visiting point. You can find the information about which hof to use as well as hours on your yearly trash calendar. They vary but many have limited hours, for instance ours is only friday and saturdays. 

Do note you have to sort the right way, there are really pissed off little men with those poker sticks who get bent out of shape if you dare place a piece of paper with the plastic. And they will watch you. Our tiny hof has about 5 guys lol. 

Our recycling hof offers the following:
1. Clothing and shoes in good condition
2. Metal cans
3. Glass- white, brown, and green
4. Small electronics- think toaster, keyoards ect
5. Wood
6. Aluminum- tin foil, packaging
7. Styrofoam
8. Metal
9. Plastic bottles- non deposit drink bottles, ect
10. Plastic containers- butter tins, yogurt cups, plant pots
11. Cardboard
12. Plastic under size a4- most food packaging
13. Plastic over size a4- furniture and packaging wraps
14. Wine corks
15. Batteries
16. Drink cartons- milk, juice (note these are different this plastic bottles, these are more like paper with wax, think of a quart of milk back home.)
17. Light bulbs

4. Large gardening waste, Hackselplatz
This is where you would bring large plants, or wood from trees. Also where you can bring your Christmas tree if you miss the pick up day :)

5. Chemical waste, Schadstoffsammelstelle.
In our case they have one day a month where we can drop off these waste items, or we can take them to a special recycling station in another city.
Here you can bring:
1. Paint
2. Pesticides
3. Household cleaners
4. Car fluids
5. Any misc Chemicals
They also have special days throughout the year when they will have special dates in which they will come to your home and pick up or have a drop off point for chemical waste (oils, paints, cleaners), as well as metals, christmas trees, and even donation items such as clothes and shoes. You should get such notices in your mail box a few weeks in advance, they generally specify what items can and cannot be placed out.

All the information you need about where to take recyclables to pick updates for trash can be found in the yearly trash calendar, Abfallkalender. We receive ours in our mailbox at the beginning of the year, but you should also be able to pick one up at town hall, rathaus. 

For more information Check out Christina's Post, "Sorting trash in Germany" over at This lady write phenomenal posts about expat life in Germany :)

Check back soon for a follow up post on how I sort and organize my recycling in my home, as well as donating in Germany, and a post about the deposit system. :)

Update: I just wanted to add that it looks like the donation bins vary per community. Today I came across some that accepted household items such as pots, pans, even sink spouts. So make sure to check out what your bins say. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Amazon mom

Unfortunately at this time this is only available on the US amazon. I hope at a later time they will introduce it on the European sites as well.

However, if you like me, do shop amazon US this is a great opportunity.

Amazon has released a new free rewards and discount program called amazon mom.

It is not hard to join, all I had to do was enter my due date, it is even open to grandparents and caregivers.

Amazon describes the program as:
Amazon Mom is a free membership program aimed at helping parents and caregivers, from the prenatal days through the toddler years, use Amazon to find all the products their family needs. To join, simply sign into your Amazon account and tell us whether you are a Mom, Dad, or other caregivers of a child. By providing some optional information about your family, you can help us personalize offers, e-mails, and product recommendations to help you find exactly what you need at just the right time. Amazon Mom members receive benefits such as 30% off diapers and wipes, FREE Two-Day Shipping with Amazon Prime, as well as exclusive offers via e-mail.
As a member you receive:
* Up to 30% off select wipes and diapers. 
* Free 2 day amazon prime shipping. You are given 3 months at sign up, and then one additional month for every 25 dollar order placed. Those earned months just tack on to the end, and you can earn up to one years worth. 
* You will also receive exclusive discounts and promotions via email.

I have already signed up and I was given quiet a few offers many of which were not even baby items, everything from coffee makers to cookbooks, as well as baby items. So it really is great for families and can save you loads of money if nothing else on the shipping rates alone. 

Check it out here

Monday, September 13, 2010

Meal Plan Monday- September 15th through 30th

Alright here it is the plan for the first half of the month for us, I know funny right, but our month runs 15th-14th. Don't ask. :)

1. Chili Cheese Potato Casserole served with corn and dinner rolls
2. Spaghetti with Chicken Parmesan served with dinner rolls and salad
3. Cold Sandwiches served with fruit and veggie stripes
4. Honey Glazed Pork chops served with rice and steamed Broccoli
5. Panini Sandwiches served with fruit and veggie stripes
6. Home made Canadian Bacon and Pineapple pizza served with salad
7. Refried bean tortillas with homemade refried beans served with mexican rice
8. Stroganoff meatballs served with mashed potatoes and steamed veggie mix **Recipe in upcoming post
9. Paprika chicken served with rice and a Baguette 
10. Cold Sandwiches served with fruit and veggies stripes
11. Chinese sweet and sour pork served with rice
12. BLT served with fruit and veggie stripes
13. Steakpfanne served with rice
15. Fish filets, potatoes with quark and carrots

Lunches: (all served with fruit and veggie stripes)
2x Asian noodle soup ** recipe in an upcoming post
6x Sandwiches
2x salad
2x rice mix
2x soup
1x left overs

Breakfasts: (served with toast or fruit)
4x oatmeal with topping
4x yogurt
3x cereal
2x hot rolls
1x cowboy hash
1x pancake, bacon, and eggs.

What's for dinner at your house?

Check out more meal plans over at orgjunkie

Ebook winner

The winner of the ebook is :


I do not have any contact information for you, so please send me an email by Wednesday to claim your prize. 

You can reach me at


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sundays in my city

This is me today at 26 weeks. 

This is also me pretending not to notice the massive swarm of bees in the flower bed behind me, and also trying to forget getting stung last week. Did I mention I hate bees? Ok hate is a strong word, lets just say I am terrified of them. 

But you know what else makes today special? Its my mom's birthday. Today she turns 59  oops I meant 29. I will get to see her for the first time in over 2 years in December, to say I am excited would be an understatement. 

Happy birthday mommy!

Check out the other bloggers over at Unknown Mami.

Unknown Mami

Last chance to enter

Today is your last chance to enter for the "How to get organized in 24 hours" ebook by a Proverbswife.

Enter here

Open worldwide. Closes tonight at 12 am German time.

Don't miss this- Amazon Mom

I wish that I had seen this sooner, I would have planned an exciting day in a new city. But hey at least I know they do it every year and I have many more to look forward to so we will just check out our area today.

Today is Tag des offenen Denkmals, or day of the open monuments. Most monuments, museums, and churches are open today, even those that are normally closed to the public.

And to top it off most are free. On the website you can search by city and look at all the stuff in your area, or the area you want to visit and it pulls up all the details.

I knew something exciting was happening when I woke up to a marching band, ha.

This would be a great day to plan for in advance every year, to check out new places. :)

You can check out the website here, but do note it is in German. You may also find information in yoru local papers or events newsletters.

If you do go somewhere, let me know what you saw.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Local Steals Sept 13-18th (Lidl)

I just wanted to share with you that lidl is having a baby sale this week. 

Some highlights from this sale:
3 pack long sleeve baby bodies (onesies) sizes 62/68 - 86/92 for 3,99

Baby schlaf overalls (footless sleepers) sizes 62/68- 86/92 for 3,99

Baby Strumpfhosen (baby tights) sizes 62/68- 86/92 for 1,99 (also have socks)

Schlafsacks (armless sleep sacks) 70, 90 and 100 cm for 7,99

4 peice kinderbett sett (bedding set) with blanket, pillow, crib bumpers, and hanging nest for 39,99 (in 4 designs)

Matching multiuse blankets 6,99

They also have bibs and 2 piece sleep sets

Have older kids? On Thursday they will have a wind and weather sale including boots, jackets and jumpers size 86/92 and up. 

What sales have you hoping this week?

Monday, September 6, 2010

How to Get Organized in 24 Hours Review and Giveaway!!!

I am very excited about this review and giveaway. Many of you are already familiar with the Saidah @ I myself have been a long time follower and am very fond of her content, so I was beyond ecstatic to be given the chance to review her new Eworkbook entitled, “How to Get Organized in 24 Hours”.

Let me start by saying I have a love hate relationship with digital books. While I am fond of the many advantages they have to offer I find myself often bothered by the resource being limited to my computer. I also struggle with justifying a purchase that is not tangible or something I can posses. I am very particular about the types of books I am willing to purchase as ebooks. So I came into this review with a very skeptical but also optimistic mind set.

How to Get Organized in 24 hours is a workbook designed to help break tasks into manageable steps. It includes a nice introductory section that introduces the reader into the approach as well as a variety of worksheets that help one plan to take back control of the area that is lacking. The book is not a cure all for all the disorganization on our lives. If you want a magic solution, or a book that will tell you in order to organize your papers you must do x,y,z, then this is not the book for you. But if you are like many who know what needs to be done but struggle to break it down into manageable and approachable tasks, then this is the workbook for you. The basis of the book is to establish an action plan, the goal being to have developed and placed into action within 24 hours. Upon which within 30 days this said plan should be in effect. Therefore the problem will not be resolved instantaneously, you will have put in your effort as well and place the plan into action, but this workbook will help you do so.

One of the neat aspects of this workbook is that while it is designed to allow you to work on many projects at the same time, it also allows for one to do so on an individual basis, it is also limitless in that the approach taught in this book can be used over and over and in practically any situation in which the tasks seem overwhelming.

At first I was caught off guard by the size of the book, but after reading through the text and worksheet pages I see that it actually is a very well matched fit, seeing as the concept is to regain control and establish a plan within 24 hours. Obviously such a task must be compact and direct. If we were to receive a 200 page book, it might be 6 months later that we actually put our plan into action. So overall I found the book to be a nice balance between text and worksheets and a great length for the topic matter.

As far as the costs of the ebook, I always weight the usability when considering the purchasing price. As I mentioned previously the worksheets in this book have the potential to be used for so many things, so I really do think it would not be a frivolous purchase, assuming you are willing to follow the system and put the plan into action.

So is this book for you? What I can say is I am the type of person to be easily overwhelmed. I do not lack in knowing what needs to be done, but I lack to ability to break it down into bite sized chunks. In cases such as mine this book is a valuable assets because it gives you the ability to regain that control. This book will not help anyone who is not willing to put in the effort, nor will it offer a miracle solution, but the possibilities are endless. I can see this being used from everything to regaining control of your home, to even planning a school research project, really limitless.

Workbook Facts:
Total pages: 18
Cost: $12.99 USD

Now is your chance to win a copy of “How to Get Organized in 24 Hours”.
The rules are pretty simple:

  1. You must be a follower of this blog and answer the following question, What is the number one hurdle keeping you from becoming organized?
  2. Only one entry per person, and please include either an email address or a link back to your blog so that I can contact you if you are the winner
  3. This giveaway will run until 12 am CEST (GMT +2) Sunday the 12th of September and a winner will be chosen using
Can't wait to get your copy? Saidah is offering an introductory special for the next 48 hours. And if you are the winner but have already purchased a copy of the book the costs will be refunded to you. 

If you do pick up a copy, be sure to leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the workbook, did it work for you?

I was provided a copy of the ebook for review as well as an additional copy to give away. Affiliate links are also included in this post, you can read my blog policy here

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Meal plan

Alright, you may notice a gap in between my 10 day plans, bear with me. We are not just starving, it just means we head a mcdonalds or sandwich meltdown or cooked out of the small but building pantry. :)

So here we go:
1. Chinese Pepper steak with steamed rice
2. Hot ham and cheese sandwiches with salad
3. Coconut chicken over couscous
4. BBQ pork chops, baked beans, and baked potatoes
5. Coney Island Chili cheese fries (carried over)
6. Chicken nuggets with potato wedges and veggies
7. Fish filets with krokatten and a veg
8. Harvest apple salad with chicken
9. Baked potatoes with quark and rolls
10. macaroni and cheese with veggie

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The day the strip turned blue, well sorta weeks 1-5

Alright, you guys asked so here you go, this is the first post in a series I will write about pregnancy. This will include my experiences, my personal story, but also just my general experience being pregnant and having a baby overseas.

So what better place to start then the beginning. The day they call, the day the strip turned blue, though I would like to add I never got any strip, I feel left out.

Let me start by saying I tried to keep this post TMI free, but well you know pregnancy is the only time we get to use genitalia words with strangers, so bear with me :P

So lets take a drive down memory lane shall we. Well this Journey all began toward the end of march. It all began with s DR. Named Christ. No, no, I know what you are thinking this time I don't mean Jesus. I mean that my OBGYN has the name Christ. I know kinda different right.

Anyway, back on point. Late March I went for a visit to the Frauenarzt. I wanted to have a pre conception check up, but also talk to her about the fact that in over a year I had not conceived. In Germany the one year mark is the border for when they start offering medical assistance, which by the way is covered by the krankenkasse, so stop insulting social medicine already will ya.

So I had a visit with Christ, hehe, sorry I had too, and she told me to come in during my next cycle and we would start by testing the hormone levels mid cycle and that would be a starting point to see if I had any issues hormonally that were affecting my ability to conceive. Well that appointment never happened. And here is the big TMI ALERT, you know the funny thing, assuming statistics and what not are right I conceived that day. Yes the day I went to visit Christ. So it is a small joke about Christ in the guiding light in our home. No harm, no fowl, I love Jesus, but you have to admit the humor in this situation.

So back on track, obviously I did not know any of this at the time. We had been trying for months. We had months with late cycles, no cycles, punctual cycles, so I stopped making assumptions and building my hope anytime it varied. So when it would turn out to be late again I did not think twice.

Well to tell you the truth I did, but I didn't know it at the time. I did not have the magical epiphany so many women talk about, because I had been so certain before. The closest thing I had was a feeling, I told my mom I felt different. But I am still not convinced it was not wishful thinking as I had been down that road before.

Well around the time my cycle was due I developed a nasty skin infection. NEXT TMI ALERT. Of all places on my behind, yes I admit it. Man I couldn't even sit it was bad. Well unlike the US the GP doctors in Germany do not do lancing. So I was given a referral to a surgeons office. Not for surgery, that is just where they do it, on an outpatient basis. So I went by myself, hubby dropped me off and went back to work, simple enough right, a small incision drain and go home. Yeah no, because of where the owie was the doctor could not do it out patient. He said there is too much risk of reinfection that can turn into staph, or infect other areas that are much worse. So he said you Rena need to go to the hospital and have actual surgery. AHHHHH!!!! So I called hubby in tears, woke my mom up in the middle of the night, to tell them I had to go to the hospital. Hubby got the rest of the day off work and we drove immediately to the hospital.

So we go in and I have to meat with a surgeon who has to again poke and prod. Through discussion it comes up I have had a fever and all the sudden this outpatient surgery has to be inpatient and I may have to stay overnight and get meds via IV. Well before we can jump the gun they have to run a full blood panel. Hubby then mentions that my cycle is irregular and I am late. So they say they will do a urine pregnancy test as well.

So they take blood and urine and we wait, and we wait, I mean we really wait like 2 hours, finally they get the first half of the results, mind you I am sitting on a huge owe on my bum, not happy I am. Then they discover the lab forgot the pregnancy test after calling down. Are you kidding me, I really thought I might go nuts on the nurses. So we wait again. Well about 3 hours later they got the results and called us back into the office.

Well you already know what those results said.

They walked us back into the doctors room, and the nurse casually said the test was positive. I remember a bit of shock, or being stunned, still not sure if I should accept it at face value, as it was only a urine test. I remember Toni looked at me wide eyes and smiling and we hugged. We were left for a few minutes alone to wait for the doctor. 

The next few minutes with the dr were a laugh. He was a very cross looking Russian dr named Sergei. When I asked him how thorough the urine tests were he responded, 'Look lady I only know what paper say, paper say positive, positive no surgery", lol. I was told to go visit and OBGYN and ask her opinion on how to proceed. On the way out I asked for a copy of the results and they were happy to give it to me. Everyone was smiling, I take it its not a common occurrence in the office. And you know what, I think even Sergei cracked a smile. 

So we called the Gynocologist and were given a appointment two days later. Normally one would wait longer, but since my situation involved a possible surgery I was squeezed in. So I went on Friday excited to find out if the results were accurate,  well the answers are never that simple in Deutschland.

So first things first they confirm pregnancies visually here. So she started by doing a internal ultra sound. I use the phrase internal as not to traumatize my father or brothers too much, but you get the drift. On the screen you could see just a faint flicker, but even then she would say only it looks good for your babywunsch (baby wish) but no confirmation. She then drew blood to test for the growth hormone. 

I then came back 3 days later at which point she said the levels were heightened, but still no confirmation, she needed a second blood draw as a point of reference. Needless to say, I sure got poked by a lot of needles in those 2 weeks. I was once again sent home and told to come back 5 days later.

The next appointment fell on April 23, at 5 weeks + 5 days. Once again she did an ultrasound but this time we saw this.

She also got the results back that the growth hormone was increasing. It was then that she finally confirmed pregnancy. I had already told my family, but we had all waited on that confirmation. A lot of it is a blur now and I wish I had written it down sooner. Best I can recall Toni was not at that appointment, I would have told him on the phone when I called for him to pick me up. I wish I could remember.

I was given my prenatal vitamins and told to come back in 4 weeks time. There was no wealth of information. I remember asking a few questions about if there are any changes I should make, ad asking a few things I had read in books about cold cuts, but it was just left at that. There has never been a whole lot of extra communication with the OBGYN it has always been very straight forth in and out, so to say.

And for all of you wondering about my lovely skin infection, well the OBGYN said it was not her call, so I ended up back at the home dr after 4 visits in 1 week to various dr's, and she tried a homeopathic medication which worked. So in the end there was no surgery, yay. 

So that is the story of the first 5 weeks of my pregnancy.

As far as physical symptoms, I never noticed anything until at least 2 weeks after I knew I was pregnant say around 7 weeks. I had none of the possible symptoms, no break through bleeding, no morning sickness, I really had not felt any different.

So I hope that answers some questions about that part of my pregnancy and my experience finding out I was pregnant in Germany.

A part of me wishes I had the test strip that turned blue, and that chance to plan a exciting way of telling Toni, but in the end, I can't think of anyone else I would have rather had in the room with me that day. And in all honesty, how many other people can say they were impregnated after a visit to a dr named christ who may or may not have had the guiding light. And how many got told they were pregnant by a very pissed of Russian names Sergei who had just checked their bum. I can tell you one thing for sure, my life is never short on laughter. 


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