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Archive for August 2013

Flashback Friday: What is dual voltage, again?

Friday, August 30, 2013

If you're new to Flashback Fridays, there are some things you should probably know:

  • I found out that the cool new thing is "Throwback Thursday" AFTER I started writing these posts. I haven't changed it because I like consistency and it's a lot of work and I'm just not very hip. 
  • I also thought of "Misadventures Monday" recently, but haven't changed it for the same reason. I really like alliteration... maybe a little too much. (I'm thinking about jumping on the Wordless Wednesday train just because it sounds cool. I am such a nerd.)
  • I don't even know if blogs are cool anymore, but I really needed some sort of creative outlet so here I am and I'm having a great time! Thanks for stopping in & please come back soon!
  • I like to laugh at myself and it will totally not hurt my feelings if you laugh at me, too.
  • A couple of years ago I moved to Germany and made a lot of mistakes while adjusting and I post them here for s's & g's. 

From my journal of misadventures: 

"Learning about Electricity. Some of you probably know that science was probably my WORST subject in school and are sitting there thinking, "Wow, how did she become a nurse??" Others of you don't know that about me, don't really care and are just wondering where I'm going with this.

Apparently there is a difference between watts and voltage and I guess neither have anything to do with the shape of the plug. To say I'm unclear on the details would be a gross understatement. We have these transformer boxes that we can plug American electronics into that somehow make it ok to turn things on and probably the house won't burn down. We also have these round converter plug things that we can plug American electronics into and SOMETIMES it's ok to turn things on and MAYBE the house won't burn down. It has to do with the label on either the back of the electronic in question or on it's wire. If I can plug it into the round one, it should say 220V somewhere on it. If it doesn't say that I have to find a box and move it to where I need it and that should be ok. Confused yet?? I've been living with this for WEEKS and I still don't get it.

Bottom line is this: I've burned up an iPod speaker, 2 curling irons, 1 clothes iron, a hair straightener, a blow dryer (that sparked- a LOT), and possibly my Kirby vacuum.  It made a terrible smell and I haven't had the guts to turn it back on... or to tell Mike. I'm really lucky he doesn't read this."

Fast forward to today and I could still write what I know about electricity on a postage stamp. I just don't try any more. Now I can hear you thinking, "What do you mean you don't try? How do you live without electricity?" Well, here's how I work around it and some random stuff I've learned along the way:

  • The TV gets it's own big transformer box thingy... not to be too technical or anything. Ahem. I never move it because we use it regularly. I'm not sure where the DVD player is plugged in. Mike did it and I just don't touch it. I unplug the box thingy from the wall when we aren't using it because someone told me that it pulls electricity as long as it's plugged in, even if it isn't being used, and electricity is pretty expensive around here.

  • You can plug any kind of lamp into the wall with just a plug converter as long as you change the bulb to a 220v bulb. This is very helpful because German lamps can be very expensive. It's also really unfortunate because I didn't know this before moving to Germany and I left all of our lamps in storage.

  • Things that charge via USB (iPod, Nook Reader, etc) have a plug we got from Saturn (that's a store kind of like Best Buy) to use with them.

  • Laptops have a plug converter, too. Mike said this is ok and my laptop still works so I assume he's right. I have my eye on a new computer (all the better to edit pictures on, my dear) but I'm too scared to buy one before we go back stateside lest I catch it on fire. Hey, it happens.

  • I have a small transformer thingy in my bathroom for my CHI straightener and my Remington curling wand because the Euro versions just don't work with my hair. Honestly, this one rarely gets used because it rains a lot here and even a CHI can't work that kind of magic on my hair.

  • I have two hair dryers that are 220v because I kept catching the others on fire.

  • All of my kitchen appliances are 220v because I kept catching things on fire.

Fortunately, we have a great network of online sales and swaps around here so I've purchased a lot of those appliances used and I'll pass them on when I leave... assuming I don't burn them up as well. <-- That's a pretty big assumption.

I'm still really confused about it all, but I think Mike finally got our house set up to function for me. I don't do much with the vacuum cleaner because it's super heavy and it needs a super heavy transformer. Mike brings it upstairs (and occasionally vacuums, too!) when I need it. We don't have much carpet, though, so it really isn't a problem.

My biggest problem at the moment is the Magic Jack. Mom gave us one when she came to visit but I can't figure out how to use it with the house phone. I know it's supposed to be the easiest thing in the world to use but I can't make it work.

So what's the moral of this story? 
Some things never change. 
Sometimes things are just going to be difficult and I'm just going to have to live with it. 
Sometimes I'm going to catch things on fire.

And then I'm going to chuckle because that's going to make me think of Beavis & Butthead, 

"Fire! Fire! huh huh huh Fire is cool!"

So I didn't post any pictures with this, but I'm curious, would you like to see what I mean by my uber-technical (see? I can speak German!) "transformer box thingy" and "converter plug thing-a-ma-bob" or is that just common knowledge for everyone except me? Did I miss that memo? If you'd like to see what I'm talking about, let me know! I'll be happy to edit this post with pics if anyone is curious.

The Man Behind the Madness

Monday, August 19, 2013

Today is the Mister's birthday and we are celebrating ... with a nap. (He has to work tonight.)
But I thought I'd share a few pictures of my main squeeze from our trip to Croatia. This is him pretty much in his element- being silly on a beach.







mike 2

I'm thankful for another year with you. You make me smile; you keep me laughing. You fight with me when I need it. You push me to push myself and I'm grateful for that. You're my bestie and life with you is pretty awesome, even when it sucks. There's no where else I'd rather be and I hope you have a great birthday.

And I hope you enjoyed Prague enough because I didn't get you a gift to unwrap this year.

I love you. Quite a lot, actually.

Book Crush #3

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Digital Photography Book: The Step-By-Step Secrets for How to Make Your Photos Look Like the Pros
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Can I share a little about my love for Scott Kelby for just a moment? (Of course I can, this is my blog....) I could tell you all about how I love his style of photography {true} or how much his books and online training are teaching me {also true}. I could talk about his wit and humor and how I love his straight talk {all true}. But that's not where my love affair with him began.

Confession: I'm a Redskins fan. Yup. Ever since I was a little girl. And even though Tennessee now has the Titans, I just can't bring myself to switch allegiance. By all means, Go Titans! But only until you play my 'Skins and then burn, baby, burn! Scott Kelby shoots pro football ... and is also a Redskins fan. I forget if I read that on his Facebook page or on his blog but I was so excited when I realized what a gem we had in common. Be still my beating heart. I'm pretty sure we were meant to be great friends.

That's where it began for me: with his pictures of my favorite team. I keep coming back because his training talks to me in a way I can understand. But what cemented my love & respect for him is his love and respect for his wife. He starts off the acknowledgements section in every one of his books saying the most wonderful things about her. I just think it's the sweetest thing in the world when a man loves his wife and is unafraid to tell the whole world. 

I'm a hopeless romantic, I guess. 

Fancy Nancy
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Ooooh, Fancy Nancy! This is my fiction pick of the week because my niece turned SIX on Friday and her birthday party was Fancy Nancy-themed!

I cannot tell you how much I wish I could have been there for that!

I'm especially proud because I'm pretty sure I gave her her very first Fancy Nancy book when she was tiny. I know I've given her several of them and I'm so thrilled that she enjoys them. Have you read these books??? I absolutely LOVE them! They are smart and sassy and gorgeous! The illustrations are stunning and the stories are fantastic and I love learning all of Nancy's fancy words.

Seriously, if you have a little girl in your life - or were once a little girl yourself - stop by your local library or bookstore and grab a couple of these books. You won't regret it.

Media Mention: Friends of Lola. Great new band right out of Nashville. You can find their debut album on iTunes or their website. 

Flashback Friday: Living Abroad

Friday, August 16, 2013

I've been living in Germany just over 2 years now so sometimes this trip down memory lane really makes me laugh at myself. The funny / sad / reassuring part is that most of my misadventures aren't just mine. Many of the American wives here have had very similar experiences - and we often get together to laugh about this stuff. Having a sense of humor really does help.

I really hope some random wife finds my blog one day when she really needs it and realizes that she isn't alone in this. So this one's for you, fellow Military Wives: Major props to you for having the guts and the heart to live this life. It ain't easy, folks!

Dear Military Wife New to Germany & Potential Future Friend,

You're not alone. I know it may feel that way some days. Right now you may be clinging to the only American woman on your street - even though you may or may not like her much - because she speaks your language. Oh, sure, English is important, but I mean something bigger than that- she "gets" you. She gets your problems. Do you know why she understands so well? Because she's been there. 

We've all been there. We've done the stupid stuff. We've felt like idiots. We've been fed up. 
We've felt trapped. We've been homesick. We've all wished to walk into a store and find a pair of jeans that just fit already. We've all cried in dressing rooms when we've had to buy a dress for a special occasion and the 7 we ordered online either didn't arrive in time or didn't look as cute as they did on the web. 

We've used our traffic signals going into roundabouts. We've nearly been creamed on the autobahn. We've gotten trapped in parking garages. We've been locked OUT of the parking garage and unable to get to our car because in America parking garages don't close after a certain time. But some of them do here. We've been confused about "frei" parking (and, yes, you have to pay- it just means there's a space open). We've gotten on the wrong train. We've been fined for having the wrong bahn ticket at the wrong time of day. We've been yelled at for taking our dog in the supermarket (no, they aren't welcome everywhere.)

Every single one of those things (and many more) have happened to me personally. 

Yeah, we know. Now. Wipe your face, put on some lip gloss and go to that coffee social or spouses lunch or playgroup. Go for a walk. Or go to the gym. Be brave and wave "hallo!" to your German neighbor. 
Meet people. Make friends. Make mistakes. 

Then learn to laugh about them. Because this may be your only chance to live in another country and it would be really sad if you only ever saw the inside of your house, don'tchathink?

Your Future BFF

p.s. Yeah, it's absolutely normal to sit in the food court on base JUST to hear people talking in English. 
You're not the only one who does that. 

p.p.s. Now that you're finished reading my note to you, check out  this silly story and then let me know about the silliest thing you've done so far!

Polska | Polen | Poland... No matter how ya say it, I can't wait to go back!

Monday, August 12, 2013


Ok, but seriously, folks. Poland is so beautiful. Definitely one of the prettiest places we've been to. I always laugh when people tell me they are a little afraid to visit. I get it; I really do. Eastern Europe sounds scary - is it in Russia? Or just near it? Is it still Communist? (Answers: No, Poland is west of Russia in Eastern EUROPE. It is sort of near Russia, I guess. I mean, it's closer than Tennessee is. And Poland wasn't Communist; it was Socialist. And, yes, there is a difference.) Well, all of that and the complete lack of being able to ready ANY sign at all... unless, of course, you read a Slavic language, but not many of us do. In reality,  though, Poles are some of the kindest, friendliest people I've met. They're happy and funny and just ... nice

And the food. Oh. The food. Have you had authentic Polish cooking? NO? You're missing out. If you live in southern Germany, I know there's a Polish restaurant in Frankfurt that's pretty good. Kaiserslautern and Mannheim both have Polish markets if you're just looking for some yummy ready made barszcz or sausage. But if you visit Poland (and I really cannot recommend it enough), don't worry about not being able to read the menu. Just point to something random and enjoy. It's all delicious.

Wroclaw 2

So while we were there - happy surprise - they had a wine festival! I live in Germany's wine country so this shouldn't have been a big deal to me, but it was lots of fun. All over Rynek Square (aka Market Square) vendors set up gardening ideas and furniture to try out. Everything was decorated with flowers and they were kind enough to provide information about where you could purchase these goodies if you so chose. I thought it was really thoughtful. They even had a couple of sandboxes for kids to play in or to rest your feet in and dream of the beach.

We spent too much time at the wine fest to revisit the cathedral and island, but maybe next time.

Oh! And I haven't told you yet about the gnomes, have I? You know how some cities have statues of cows or horses or whatnot and they are usually painted different colors by local artists? Well, in Wroclaw, they have gnomes. They are mostly small and are scattered all over the city but there are quite a few gathered in the downtown area - most likely to make mischief together, I imagine. Isn't that what gnomes do? They're tons of fun to find. Some are easy to spot, others hide from you. They even have their own website if you'd like to learn more about their history and get a map of where to find them. And don't worry, you can switch the website to English in the top right corner.

Wroclaw 3

Our trip culminated in a wedding. Is there any better way to end a long weekend than with two young lovebirds dancing the night away? Probably not. I had never been to a Polish wedding, and let me tell ya- these guys know how to throw a wedding. I'm very fortunate I had never been to one before I had my own wedding because it would have too expensive for me to have in America and I would have been heartbroken. 

All of the food - yes, the food again - is served family style and there is always a full meal available on the table. And we're not talking about for a couple of hours, either. From 6pm to around 4 or 5am, we partied. We danced. We ate. We drank. We ate some more. We laughed. We talked. And we ate. Every couple of hours the servers cleared the tables and brought out another round of deliciousness. There were at least 3 tables of desserts and vodka on every table. I think Mike & I went to bed around 3 because we had a 9 hour drive to make that afternoon. Or maybe it was because my dress was too tight from eating so much. Either way, we woke up the next morning for brunch and the whole thing started again. It was fantastic!

Now I'm off to convince the Mr. to take me back again!

Book Crush #2

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble
Look Better Naked: The 6-Week Plan to Your Leanest, Hottest Body - Ever!

I'm a total sucker for self help books and anything health or diet related will probably get read around here. It's a sickness, I tell ya! What I like about this book (and why it's showing up here) is because it's about loving yourself right now. It promotes confidence and I think that's sexy- sexier even than a perfect six-pack or thighs that don't touch. 

It also advocates clean eating and has a great exercise plan included and those are two things I can get behind. I'm super excited to try some of the delicious looking recipes! 

Amazon  |  B&N
Divergent (Divergent, #1)

My fiction pick this week is actually two books, Divergent and Insurgent, both by Veronica Roth. I read both of these books in a couple of days while we were on vacation in Croatia and then reread Divergent last week. I'm also really looking forward to the third installment, Allegiant, out this October.

I could tell you horror stories about walking around our tiny town in Croatia looking for a wifi signal to buy Insurgent because I had to read it as soon as I finished Divergent ... and then getting mad at Mike because he was really enjoying the book he was reading while I couldn't read the one I wanted to read. (I've mentioned I can be totally unreasonable, right?)

I loved the characters and the plot is fun (so of course it's being made into a movie). It can be a light easy read or you can put some more thought into it and see if you can learn something. (Do we separate ourselves based on our own ideals, consciously or otherwise? Do we automatically assume our values are the most important? Is that really a good way to be?) Or - like I said - just chill out and enjoy it for the cool story it is. psst... I liked them better than The Hunger Games.

Media Mention

And on the tube this week- a classic. Friends, Season Two. Ross & Rachel's first kiss gets me every time! And who doesn't love the scene with U2's "With or Without You"!

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Flashback Friday: Shopping

Friday, August 9, 2013

Shopping is something I used to be really, really good at.

Then I moved to Germany. Their clothes don't fit correctly. I wear 3 different size shoes here. And sometimes I get the exchange rate backwards. <-- I'm actually getting much better at that.

When I first moved here I kept a journal of sorts and this was one of my first entries about the first time I ventured into a store alone:

"Which way do I go?? Most stores in America have entrances and exits and they are well marked. Do we pay attention to these stickers on the doors? Of course not. If the door will open, we will go thru it. Blame it on our pioneer spirit. In Germany you are expected to obey the signs and if you try to go out the in you will be stopped. You may get yelled at. You will certainly be looked upon with suspicion. Why in the world would you think you can just go thru any door you want? Who died and left you god-of-the-doorways?? That's the best case scenario. 

Or you can be like me and cause a huge fuss. 

Globus is a local retailer much like Walmart. They carry a little bit of everything and I needed a broom. I thought I'd be very brave and buy something on my own so off I go. Sounds like a great plan right? It would have been if Globus had a broom like what I was looking for. They didn't. This meant I couldn't go out the "Exit" area because it was on the other side of the cash registers, and no, you cannot squeeze past the line. (You think going out the wrong door is bad??? I can't imagine what they would do if you tried it!) I looked around for a bit but could see no other way out. I was going to have to go thru the "in" gate THE WRONG WAY. Alarms sounded, doors locked, people stared. I was mortified. A kindly gentleman showed me how to get out, but we still had to wait for security to unlock the gates. Customer Service had to clear it with security that it was just a dumb American who apparently can't read signs. Then she gave me a dirty look. I was nearly in tears by the time I got to the car and could not wait to get home. I'm sure you can imagine."

Yeah. That totally happened. I really wish I had been exaggerating, but if anything, I down played it. That customer service lady? She really was nasty to me. I didn't understand much German at the time, but I knew enough to know she was saying some rather unpleasant things about me. People really did stand around and stare at me like I should have been performing some circus trick. 

Reading this could still bring tears to my eyes, but for different reasons now. Now I know that there is usually an exit gate near the customer service desk at every store. If not, you can totally squeeze past the line. Some people may not like it but sometimes there's no other option. Now I know that many people just like giving dirty looks for no good reason. Maybe they are all having bad days. Maybe it's in the water, who knows?

But what could start the water works now isn't my embarrassment or humiliation,  it's that nice man who showed me the right way to leave. He had the most beautiful smile. And that reassuring squeeze to my arm? Especially comforting in the midst of a culture that doesn't do that sort of thing. He was genuinely kind right when I needed someone to be. 

It's like Mr. Rogers said, "Always look for the helpers." 

Maybe we should all take that a step further and try to always BE a helper. How awesome would that be?

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Happy Thursday!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Just a few things from this past week that make me ridiculously happy:

From Top Left:

  1. The gorgeous produce that grows everywhere around here. Look at those apples!
  2. The mama quail Lola and I stumbled upon while out for a walk. She really strutted her stuff protecting her eggs.
  3. This strawberry came with a little surprise!
  4. Lola. 'Nuff said.
  5. The wheat fields that surround our village absolutely glow in the late afternoon.
  6. This little grasshopper visited us one morning. He hung out on our dining room table most of the day.

Book Crush #1

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Amazon   |  Barnes & Noble
The Honest Life: Living Naturally and True to You
What a great reference if you're trying to eliminate as many chemicals as you can while still living a perfectly normal life! 

Did you know:

"The average personal care product contains around 126 ingredients. The government doesn't require pre-market safety testing on any of them." (page 45)

"[Tear-Free Baby Products] contain a special mix of toxic chemicals that work by numbing your baby's eyes so she can't feel all the other harsh chemicals stinging!" (page 43)

"In the past 35 years, the EPA has restricted only 5 toxic substances and the FDA has banned 11. Meanwhile, the European Union has banned more than 1,100 chemicals that it considers unsafe in personal care products alone." (page xvi)

If any of that sounds interesting or disturbing to you, you'll probably like this book. She does a great job of presenting complicated information in a very usable format. And even better: she keeps it real- she points out that she cheats, too, and that it would be impossible to live 100% nontoxic. I like that. It's all about making changes where you can when you're able to. It's about doing the best you can in the moment.

I feel like I should mention that she does promote her own products (have you checked out The Honest Company yet? Ah-mazing!) but it doesn't bother me. She and her team have done a lot of research (so that I don't have to - yay!) and put in a lot of time to develop a safe and effective line of products we can be confident in using. Why shouldn't she promote her hard work? She does promote other brands, too, and gives recipes for natural home made options as well.

I've been reading this series for years because I never want it to end. Never ever ever. I'm really not sure I want to live in a world where Jamie Fraser doesn't exist and I know he cannot live forever. If you're an avid reader you probably understand my attachment to a completely fictional character. I don't want to read the pages where he dies. I'm getting very nervous because I'm dancing closer and closer to the end. The book after Echo is set to be released in March 2014.

It actually might be a few years before I can read the next installment, Written in My Own Heart's Blood, until I know if there will be another one after it.

If you haven't read this series, it starts with Outlander. I always like to read a series in order, but I especially recommend it with this one. There is an intricate web woven through these stories and you won't want to miss a bit of it.

Media Mention: Snatch. One of Guy Ritchie's best.
Don't like to read? That's ok! (Actually it makes me a little sad for you, but hey! To each his own.) I admit this movie definitely isn't for everyone, but it's one of my favorites. It's violent and vulgar and culturally offensive. I think it's hilarious. Sound good? Want an added layer of enjoyment? Turn on the "Piker Subtitles" so you can understand what Brad Pitt is saying. A special shout-out to my cousin, Josh, for that tip! Thanks for that suggestion!  It was awesome! Jolly good time!

We Recycle, Yes We Do! We Recycle, Do You?

Friday, August 2, 2013

I recently had a funny Facebook conversation with a fantastic cousin-in-law turned friend where she poked fun at Mike & me for driving a Land Rover. Why do we hate Nature? she asked. 

screeeeeeeeeching halt. full stop.

Oh, my. It's funny how sometimes you see yourself very differently from how others view you, isn't it? I wouldn't consider myself a full on hemp-wearing, bathing-in-streams hippie but I love the term Conveniently Crunchy (a friend from my college days coined it and I think it fits my lifestyle pretty perfectly). 

I try to make changes where they make sense for us. I love to hang my laundry to dry, except for towels, that is; they still go in the dryer because I like them to be fluffy. I shop at farmers markets for fresh produce- it tackles being outside, eating healthier and reconnecting to my food source all at the same time. Triple Score! I clean most of my house with vinegar and baking soda and I cut down on chemicals where I can. I use coconut oil as a moisturizer (more on the wonders of coconut oil in a later post! Or if you're dying to know right now, our good friend Google can help you out). I'm trying to grow some of my own food but that has not worked out yet. 

Also, we recycle. A lot. And not just because Germany requires us to.

Garbage day on our street. I've only had to prop my black garbage open like that once.

When we first moved to Germany, this is what I had to say about their recycling program:

"Recycling. I believe in recycling; I really do. I wasn't so great at it at Luke's house, but normally I'm all for saving the planet. Here it's a requirement. It breaks down like this (I think): normal paper and cardboard in the blue bin, plastics/waxy paper/metal/food containers in the yellow bags. 
Compost in the brown can (or the compost pile in the backyard, but I haven't figured that out yet).
Residual garbage in the black can. Sounds easy, right? 

I've spent more time trying to figure it out than should be required for any reasonably intelligent person. It's helped now that I have multiple garbage cans and am color coding them with electrical tape.

Add to it all that garbage day is Tuesday, but they don't pick up all types of garbage on every Tuesday. There's a very convoluted rotation that I haven't mastered yet. And you can't overfill the black bin or you're assessed a fee. You can purchase red bags to avoid the fee, but I don't know what you can put in them or where to buy them or when they would be picked up or if I should take them somewhere, so we don't have red bags. Also, plastic bottles bought on base are recycled with yellow bag garbage but plastic bottles bought on the economy are taken to the place in town to be recycled but they must have the caps on. 

Don't get me started on glass.
We're supposed to do something special with glass, but I have no idea what it is."

If you're new to Germany and stopped by this blog randomly, have hope! You will figure this out! It's really not so hard once you get used to it and find a system to help you organize your garbage. 

Here's what I know now and how I make it work:

In my kitchen I have 3 garbage cans: 
  1. The black tape is for true garbage- I rarely have very much of this, it's really just cooked leftovers and a few paper towels, which I'm considering getting rid of in favor of having more reusable cloths. 
  2. The yellow tape is for anything that is recyclable- and around here, that's pretty much everything. Plastics, metals, styrofoam- anything you think might recycle goes here. You can rinse your food containers if you like (and it's recommended, especially in the summer or if you have animals who will open your bags); sometimes I do and sometimes I don't.
  3. There is also a small garbage can under the sink for raw foods waste (peelings or apple cores, that kind of thing)- this garbage goes into the brown bin outside or to the compost pile. I don't really use this garbage can because I don't like cleaning it. I find it easier to just take the waste outside right away so it doesn't get smelly. I generally use the Rachael Ray trick of putting my raw garbage in a big bowl while I'm prepping and cooking dinner. Then I can just empty it and wash it with no worries and no smell. 
Pretty boring, right? Simple works best for us.
A quick dissection of this picture, should you require it: These are 2 very simple garbage cans. I didn't realize when I bought them that the one of the left (for true garbage) would be WAY too big for what I need it for. I could easily do with a small 8 gallon can for garbage. I really should see about getting a new one. 13 gallons works pretty well for me for recyclables (on the right). And that's the door to my dining room they are sitting in front of. If I didn't keep it closed I would have nowhere for my garbage cans to sit - my kitchen is THAT tiny. I'll post a home tour one of these days so you can see. It's comical. (:

The Publix reusable shopping bag hanging on the door is currently Mike's lunchbox. He doesn't care what he carries his food in as long as it's convenient. (I just like that he is eating healthy home cooked food instead of ordering out all of the time.) The other green bag hanging on the left holds my reusable shopping bags and the one sitting on the floor (you can barely see the corner by the watermelon) usually has either glass or plastic bottles in it, or sometimes both.

Outside we have 3 big bins: 
  1. The Black Bin: for regular kitchen garbage. One really cool thing about the German system is that instead of paying a flat rate for garbage pick up, you pay according to the number of people in your household and the size bin you need. That's awesome for Mike and me because we've never exceeded our limit in the smallest size bin. On the other hand, if you have 17 kids, well... you pay more. I'm sure some people don't like it, but it seems fair to me. If you DO exceed your limit, there are special bags you can buy for around 3 euro or so and that cost includes the cost for pick up as well, which is nice. I see them sometimes on the streets around holidays but we've never needed one. We've never come close to filling up our Black Bin except on weeks when we forget to put it out for pick up. With 4 weeks between pick ups, we do come close to filling it up. "Full" would be approximately two 13 gallon garbage bags full. Maybe you could squeeze 3 bags in there.
  2. The Brown Bin: this is for anything "composty." Yard clippings, uncooked food. If you'd toss it into a compost pile, it can also go here. We do fill this one up frequently, especially in the summertime. If you fill up the Brown Bin and still have stuff to get rid of (maybe you trimmed back all of your hedges) there are places on the outskirts of most villages to dump yard waste. At Christmas time Mike and I go to these spots to get greenery cuttings to decorate with.
  3. The Blue Bin: Our Blue Bin is huge and it's for paper. I'm still unsure if magazines can go in there so sometimes I toss them in and other times I put them in yellow bags. I'm moving away from magazine purchases, though - yay for Pinterest!- so this is becoming less of a conundrum. 
The yellow bags we just store in the garage until garbage day and then set them on the street. They will pick up as many yellow bags as we set out. And yellow bags ("gelbsacs") are free from the Rathaus (City Hall).

We also have a composter in the very back of our yard, but I am still unsure how to use it so I mostly don't. I've bought a couple of books and will learn more about that. It's definitely something I want to try.

So that's pretty much it for the way they do things around here. An average two week period for us produces 2-3 yellow bags and not even a whole regular garbage bag of waste. I think we have more recyclables because I mostly buy American groceries and they have much more packaging. German manufacturing companies are assessed fees partly based on how much packaging they use for their products, so you don't get little things like wax paper between your cheese slices. How fantastic is that?! I love corporate responsibility!

I still don't really know the garbage pick up rotation. I had it down for a while but they changed it so I'm lost again. I just watch to see what my neighbors are doing.  Mike mostly puts the garbage out if he's home- so thankful for him! He's way smarter than me.

OH! I forgot about the glass and plastic bottles! We don't have many plastic bottles, but the ones we buy in our village have a little symbol on them. Those we take back to the store, put them in a machine and it gives us change back for each one we turn in. It's fun on yellow garbage day to watch the pick up men sort through the yellow bags and pull out bottles they can turn in for change. Over about 4-6 weeks we might get back 3-5 euro in change but we don't buy sodas and we mostly drink tap water. If you buy a lot of bottled water, though, I bet it really adds up! 

The glass has a drop off point in the center of our village. We just load it up and take it as often as we need to. This varies for us. We usually have to go immediately after having people over (those wine bottles take up a lot of space!) but sometimes I'll have one random glass jar sitting for months until I find another use for it.

That's our Standard Operating Procedure for Recycling in this house. We do other random stuff, too, but I think maybe that's a different topic for a different day. I could go on and on about what being a military spouse has taught me about home goods and the joys of living simply.

I also love looking at all of Germany's innovative products that help make garbage management easier. Every home store has a whole section dedicated to garbage. That's amazing to me. We don't own any of it because, for us, simpler is better, but it's fun to look at.

If you're interested in setting up a recycling center at your house, check out some of these products to help you get started:

Suncast Recycle Bin Kit BH183PK

Whitmor 6863-3484-BLK-BB Aluminum Handle Triple Recycle Sorter Black

Gaiam Folding Recycling Bags (Color Coded) Set of 3 (Paper, Glass, Cans)

Or check out IKEA- either in person or online. They usually have a HUGE selection of options available. Disclaimer: I have an Amazon Associates account so if you buy anything I link to on this blog, I might get a small commission at no additional cost to you. I do not link to random things - only to products I've tried and liked or something I would be willing to try myself sold at a price I would be willing to pay.

Maybe I get too excited about garbage, but I really like recycling. I think it's a great way to help a little bit with the planetary burden we're creating. I love how easy Germany makes their recycling program and really wish more cities in America would get on board. It just makes me feel good to take care of our earth even if it's just a little bit.

All of that aside, I'm still not quite ready for his-and-hers matching Prius's just yet! I mean, that Land Rover is seriously fun!