Thursday, July 25, 2013

Shopping in France

Doesnt that just sound so lives of the rich and famous? I went shopping in France for the weekend. Well, dont be jealous just yet. I live 40minutes from the French border. We drove over last weekend to check out Cora. Cora is a very popular store amongst the local American population and, what I soon learned, the world! It was packed with Germans, French, Americans and I even heard some Italian. It was awesome. It's like the global equivalence of Walmart with better prices and product.

We didnt buy much; strawberries, bubble wands, house shoes and pizza. It was a nice trip overall. Upon my return a friend clues me in on this cookie butter craze. I just have to try Speculoos. What is this? I dont know, but she knows good eating so I trust her judgment and shell out the 6.50euros. Ouch! For fake nutella? I've never even had nutella, but I sure hope this tastes better than that.

I get home with this seemingly innocent jar and I pop it open. What am I supposed to eat this with? I grab a piece of bread and make a speculoos and jam sandwich. My first bite was fantastically yummy. Unicorns came running through my yard and rainbows appeared in my house. Each rainbow could talk and out if their mouths came tiny little teddy bears with top hats and ballet shoes. The teddy bears danced around my head and sprinkled sparkly dust as I turned around and around in place holding my sandwich. Yea, it was kind of like that. If you've never had any type of cookie butter, RUN dont walk to the store and grab a jar immediately.

What else could I eat with this goodness? Shoveling spoonfuls into my mouth would have to stop. Okay I only had two small spoonfuls, but still it was becoming ridiculous. I quickly called upon my best friend Google. Tons of recipes with speculoos or cookie butter flooded my screen and gave me brain overload. Then I stumbled on how to make my own cookie butter! SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! I read through a few recipes and reviews. I was going to make one that had combined peanut butter with cookie butter, but I'll save that for another time. I wanted to make my own cookie butter to combine with cream cheese for a vanilla cupcake frosting.

The brand in Germany is made from Lotus cookies. I just so happened to find packages of these delectables for 1.39euros. I picked up two packages along with a bag of white chocolate chips. Averie Cooks (an awesome blog of recipes for all food!) recommended using white chocolate chips and so I did.

In my food processor I blended the entire package of Lotus cookies (I think it's over 20 cookies)        
1/2 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c white chocolate chips
2 tbs coconut oil

And viola! Yumminess! It's thinner than the original, but the flavor is so close Im okay with the consistency. Im storing my in the fridge and it will harden a little, but set it out and it should become softer at room temperature after 5-10minutes. I'll be making my cupcakes in the morning. Check facebook for photo updates :) It's too hot to turn my oven on after 8am here in Germany AKA the land of no air conditioning.

Until then CIAO! or CHOW in this case :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Gingerbread head

I've been wanting to add some color to my life (hair) for quite some time, but the fear of extreme damage kept me from actually doing it. I would have daydreams of me applying the chemicals and then the next scene I'd be rinsing my hair and all of my hair would be in the sink!! My husband told me, "It's just hair. It only took two years to grow this much." He's an all or nothing type person. I'm more of an 'I dont want to be bald for two years' type of person.

After tons of research (YouTube videos), I decided to give it a go. I wanted to avoid bleaching my hair at all possible costs, but we know that naturally dark hair is hard to lighten without it. I wasnt looking for a platinum blonde, but something a few shades lighter.

I dove right in to my student mode, reading tons of blogs and watching videos of dark haired beauties going lighter. I wanted to know what to do before, during and after the coloring process. And I searched high and low on how to avoid the dreaded orange. I contacted a friend of mine who is also a cosmetologist and asked which box brands she recommended I use or stay away from. Well after her long complicated instructions on using bleach (sounded like rocket science to me, but she knows her craft), she told me she just didnt want me to end up with hair color that appeared to melt into my skin tone making me look like a gingerbread cookie. If that's not funny, she then sent me a picture of a gingerbread girl cookie! I fell out laughing. So now I had to worry about orange hair and hair too close to my tone. Let's just give up now shall we?

Of course I didnt. I located the "Sally's Beauty Supply" store here in Germany. It actually was bought out by a company named Pro Duo and they accept our stateside Sally's discount cards! Score! The lady working the register that evening spoke English very well and she had great advice. I wasnt too sure if she knew what she was talking about, but I confirmed with an American lady also shopping that day who was a licensed cosmetologist. I purchased the shampoo & conditioner here, but I bought the box kit from the BX or Base Exchange.

photo from

Here's what I learned through YouTube & conversations

1. If going lighter, choose an "ash" tone to avoid the brassy orange tones. You're not going to get blonde from the box, but it will be the best in lifting the color without using bleach.

2. Dont shampoo hair 24hours prior to coloring. you can rinse your hair if you have some product buildup. I rinsed my hair the day before.

3. DO A STRAND TEST! I mixed according to the instructions in my kit. It was 1:1. I mixed a little in a plastic bowl and threw in some shed hairs I had from my detangling session. The color was lighter and not brassy.

4. Line your ear and skin around your hairline with conditioner. Let it dry- it will look white. This will protect your skin from the dye/chemicals.

5. Section hair. I did 4 sections. If going lighter start the mixture 1/4 inch from the scalp. The heat from your scalp speeds up the process. This is why some people end up with very light roots compared to their hair. After you've done each section like this THEN go back and apply it to the roots.

6. Follow the box instructions! Mine said to not shampoo for 48 hours and to use their follow-up conditioner. I did this. I left the tube of conditioner on my hair for about an hour before rinsing out.

7. Shampoo & condition with products specifically for color treated hair. Mine are purple/blue tones and help with toning any brassiness or orange tones. These also help with keeping your color vibrant.

8. MOISTURIZE! Keep your hair moisturized daily if not twice a day. I normally deep condition 1x a week, but will be doing it 2-3 times a week for the next month before I reevaluate the condition of my hair.

Im happy with my end result and even got the stamp of approval from the Gingerbread head police! Im thinking of doing an all over application around November/December to lighten it a few more shades, but we'll see.

Until next time, CIAO!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Workout? What about my hair?

I've recently made a few changes to my lifestyle as you are aware. I've transitioned my hair back to its natural state (relaxer free) and I've committed myself to a healthier lifestyle & diet. Since I normally wear my hair curly and up, I can rinse or co-wash (wash my hair with conditioner.less drying than shampoo) daily after I workout.

Then there are times when I've spent the better half of a day roller setting my hair and who wants to sweat out hours and hours of hand cramps? Im not exaggerating, my hands usually start cramping toward the end. What's a girl to do? Skip out on her workout to maintain her do? Well, some would say yes. Hell, some avoid working out altogether for this reason.

I was watching some YouTube videos when I ran across this product that "saves your do" while you workout. Pretty awesome and I thought it would be neat to try out. I went to the site and was very impressed with everything EXCEPT the price. We know Im cheap. It's actually not overly priced, but I knew that I could recreate the design with items I already owned.

The idea is to keep your hair from becoming drenched with sweat which would revert your straight or stretched hair back to its curly state. You wear a specially designed headband while you workout made of whatever material. The material soaks up the sweat without damaging your hair like cotton.

Hmmm... my mind began to wonder. Could I make this with a sweatband? Scarves? Well, I threw out the sweatband idea only because I cant really adjust the tension like I can with a scarf.

I took a cotton scarf and folded it into a long rectangle. Then I took my satin triangle and folded it around the cotton scarf ONCE. Any more than once and the sweat will start to roll down your face instead of being soaked up by the cotton. Then I tied it around my head and worked out. It's important to tie your hair up into a high ponytail to keep the ends dry. Here are some pics to help with my explanation.


This is AFTER the workout

Now, Im one sweaty person when I workout and let me tell you. After I finished over an hour of cardio & strengthening I had almost no sweat running down my face. I took off the scarf contraption and it was SOAKED! I was able to wring out the sweat. Gross. The true test was when I examined my hair. Viola! It was not dry but it was only slightly damp and still straight. Remember to keep your hair in the ponytail until it has dried. YAY! Cost me nothing, but if you have to go and buy these items you can usually find them for $0.99 each. 

Ok ladies, no more excuses. You can keep your fly hair and get that matching body!

Until next time... CIAO!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful fathers out there, including my own awesome husband.

Im working on 2 major life projects which I will share and reveal on my birthday next month. Im turning 30 and I've decided it's time to finish up a few goals I've been struggling with for awhile.

We are also planning a couple of trips this summer and I cant wait to share the pictures and experiences with you.

Time to make some cinnamon rolls for the hubby and kids. Check out the recipe :)

What are you all doing for the fathers/father figures in your lives?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

why didnt i think of that?

That's how I feel about all of these gadgets, kid toys, and random crap that people buy up by the thousands. Why didnt I think of that? I could've been a gagillionaire! Yes, that's a real word.

All of the things I would do with a gagillion dollars... The one thing I would do IMMEDIATELY is hire a maid and a separate live-in nanny. These kids are the cutest, bestest, most adorablest, creatures ever and I love with with all my heart...but I think they turn into gremlins if I feed them or pour water on them EVER! Little snots hehehehe!

I'm pretty sure you all know what I'm talking about. You either have kids or have seen kids lol. They are out to get us. I should've named them Trickster 1 and 2. They plot and plan to take over my mind and make me do things for them. Things like make them food and drive them around to see their friends and bathe them and- wait...CRAP...they've got me! I'm pretty sure my husband thinks I'm going to have a nervous breakdown, but that's just my ploy to get a spa day!

I dont really have anything to talk about, but I wanted to let you all know I'm still here. I recently took a trip back to the states to pay my respects to my grandfather who passed away. I took my son, but left the girls. It was quite an experience traveling with him. Though I have take them across the world alone, he seemed to be more trouble! I'm planning on getting some projects done this month that I've been putting off. I want to start actually using my sewing machine and finish a few crafts I've put on hold since FOREVER.

My next goal is to obtain my international driver's license this month so I can drive myself to France for a quick getaway! Check the facebook page for my most recent culinary creation :)


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Random Updates

Since I know everyone loves to hear what I'm up to (sarcasm) I thought I'd give you all a few random updates. By the way, I'm getting homesick. I'm getting that itch to take a trip to the states. I need huge discount stores, fast food, 24hour-ness, family, friends, English, my mom and THE SUN. Luckily, as I'm typing this the sun is out today, but I'm from Phoenix and I miss the blazing blinding sun (the sun NOT the heat)! What I don't need is to spend unnecessary costs on travel, lodging, food, entertainment and to travel alone with THREE babies and to have to adjust to the time difference and the readjust once we return. Those things keep my mind in a serious reality check! Okay, here are my updates in no particular order

Each month one of my closest friends and myself like to create a New Month Resolution. Why wait until the beginning of a new year? This month my resolution is: 30 pages in 30 days. I need to write these stories that are crowding my mind. It's like black Friday meets a Beyonce concert in there. Tons of ideas I need to get down on paper. My goal is to write - just to write. I need to clear my mind. Facebook had a suggested status or page in my feed that was PERFECT for me and this goal. To sum it up, it simply said to write without going back each day to review/critique the previous day's work. If you keep doing that you'll never move forward because you'll always find something to change. We all know the purpose of rewrites, so why do this daily? Genius! Lightbulb! Can't believe how simple that was, yet so profound. It was exactly what I needed. By the end of the month I may come back with a slew of reasons why I didn't reach my goal of 30 pages. Dont judge me if that happens :)

I just finished baking vanilla cupcakes with a strawberry buttercream frosting. Sounds amazing right? Well, THEY ARE!!! I really shouldn't be making these since I've been doing so well working out and eating right, but I'll just have the husband take them to work tomorrow after we each get one or two tonight. They were very simple to create too! I took a Betty Crocker white cake box and added a 3.4oz package of Jello vanilla instant pudding to it. I used egg whites instead of whole eggs and the extra virgin olive oil in place of vegetable oil. Whipped it up in the Kitchen Aid mixer and voila! The frosting was just as easy.

Strawberry ButterCream Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (I used Smart Balance)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 (16 oz) package powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup of fresh strawberries, chopped (I thawed some from my frozen bag I use for smoothies)
Stuff all of the frosting into a gallon sized ziplock bag then snip off one of the bottom corners. This way you can spread the frosting on the cupcakes with ease. Also makes it look fancy! That's an old trick which Im sure you're all aware of, but let me have hope that someone I dont know reads my blogs :) hahahahaa! 


We have taken two family trips in the last few weeks. They were local travels to some indoor places we thought would be a nice change of scenery for the family. One was an indoor aquarium and the other an indoor prehistoric museum. Just by those descriptions, I personally thought the aquarium was going to blow the museum out of the water (pun intended). We were shocked that it was the complete opposite. The Sea Life Aquarium in Speyer, Germany is pretty much a joke. We had to stand outside in line in the cold for about 20 minutes. With such a buildup of anticipation we were expecting to be amazed... anything. The inside was cramped and the entire place probably fit inside the lobby of the museum. Luckily, we scored a deal online for our tickets and all of our kiddos are free at both places. The museum, Gondwana, was a little more expensive, but worth it. You start and end the tour with a movie. You can opt to listen to the tour in English and each room was better than the last. One room felt like we were walking under water, another had an amazing flash flood rushing at you, there was a mechanical T-Rex that roared and ate its kill inches away from you. That last part was a little scary for my girls, but very awesome nonetheless. To top it off, we ended the tour with an hour of play in the indoor play area! Definitely wore the kiddos out and I think my husband too.


I'm still a natural goddess, as my friend Cicely says. My hair care routine can be found on the Healthy Hair Journey tab at the top. I'm really loving my hair and all I can do with it. It's ironic how I would relax my hair and then try to style it to appear more full or curly. My current routine is simple. Basically, I keep my hair moisturized and in a bun during the week and style on the weekends. I did just mix up a hair custard that worked on all 3 of us. Choose your favorite EcoStyler gel (1 cup) and add a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil, a tablespoon of aloe vera gel and mix until it has a custard consistency. It's like magic :) Keeps my curls in tact without being hard or causing any white residue. I just sprayed my curls with water, sealed with a little grapeseed oil and then applied the gel. I was able to use a satin bonnet and rock the style for 3 whole days! That's a lot for me. Normally, I get 1 day out of a style. I could probably go longer, but I have to wash my hair for the week and I sweat so much during my weekday workouts that there would be no hope for these curls.

Regardless if youre natural or relaxed, focus on healthy hair habits. You can look on YouTube, Google, and hair forums for tons of ideas and information. If you only do a few things, I would suggest these tips:

- moisturize your hair (water or water based product- read the ingredients! water should be first)
-seal in the moisture with an oil
-limit heat & stretch the time between your relaxers (only apply relaxer to new growth)
-wear a satin bonnet or sleep on a satin pillowcase at night (cotton dries your hair's moisture)


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

awww, cute!

My daughter, Lilly, will give her siblings a kiss and then say, "Aaaww...cute!" It's the cutest thing ever lol. Well that's how I felt after spending a romantic day with my husband last Friday.

We went to a Brushstrokes & Bellinis event here in Germany. I've done this two other times with friends and absolutely loved it! A very talented artist guides you through step by step on how to paint the picture she has chosen for the class. Your blank canvas transforms into a lovely painting in the end. You're almost shocked that you can create such a masterpiece. There are bellinis of course and plenty of food the people in your party bring to share.

At this particular event the theme was for couples...obviously for Valentine's Day. We spent the evening with another couple we've grown to love since moving to Germany. They also have twins and are just as funny and silly as we are. The evening was spent laughing and painting and enjoying some good eats (and for them some good drinks). Our pictures turned out completely different and I love that. Though we all draw inspiration from the same original picture, we all have the autonomy to create. The other events she held were a little different than this one. Normally, you receive a blank canvas and step by step from the background to foreground she shows you how to paint using different techniques. This one, she had pre-sketched the image onto our canvases and you and your partner shared a canvas. While I loved the idea of us painting together, I didn't like having to "paint by numbers" per se. It was also awkward painting together on one canvas. I wouldve liked to each have a smaller canvas and later put them up side by side. Overall, I really had a blast that night. We will have memories to last a lifetime and that's what it's all about.

Side note... Gabby has a very short attention span for arts & crafts and her dad is EXACTLY the same way! hahahahaa...

Here are pictures from that night with our friends and the other two I created in the past. CIAO!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

im the nom nom

My husband caught me singing "I'm the bomb dot com slash nom nom nom" and dancing in the kitchen only 15 minutes ago. I just made the best cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting and I'm feelin' myself!

We've had tons of plans to go places, but thanks to the rain and all of us being sick, we've made it absolutely no where. I'm hoping for some sunshine soon. When you're shut in with a bunch of babies, what's better than cooking and cleaning. That's a joke- seriously people, you should know me by now. BUT...and this is a huge butt... (yes b-u-t-t), if you must be cooking why not bake deliciousness.

I've had a few recipes pinned to my Pinterest board, but I've been putting them off because they seem to need some effort on my part. The last thing I want to do is spend any extra hours in the kitchen after my normal hours are over. Other than cinnamon rolls, I've been eyeing some baked donuts as well as a copy cat pillsbury chocolate chip cookie recipe. I finally settled on the cinnamon rolls.

I gathered all of my ingredients and began my task. One thing I liked about this particular recipe was that the initial process took place in the bread machine. We all know how much free time I have and even though I started during the kids' nap time, I was sure this would need more time. I'm one of the world's greatest multi-taskers. It's part of being a mom. So, in went the ingredients for the next hour of mixing, kneading and rising while I started dinner.

I followed the recipe exactly- well, almost exactly. I didn't have enough cream cheese to make enough frosting so I cut the frosting recipe in half (except for the vanilla extract). I then made another batch of frosting and combined the two in my kitchen aid mixer. The second recipe was simple enough- 1 cup of powdered sugar and a tablespoon of milk. I mixed this together and added just a splash more of milk to make it easier to stir. Threw the two together and made magic! Delicious heavenly frosting atop a cinnamon pastry of perfection...the world isnt ready! Hahaha! Here are some pictures and the recipe is at the end. I added some notations to things I altered or omitted. Please let me know if you try these out and if you're as in love as I am.

Until next time... CIAO!

Cinnamon Rolls

  • 1 cup milk (warmed to 110 F)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened and cut into small pieces
  • 4-1/2 cups bread flour (not all-purpose flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2-1/2 tsp Active Dry yeast
  • 1-1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 Tbl Saigon Cinnamon (our fav)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • FROSTING *I did half of this recipe, then mixed with 1c of powdered sugar & 1 tblsp milk
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 3-1/2 cups powered confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract * I didnt half the vanilla :) 
  1. DOUGH: Warm the milk. Place dough ingredients in your breadmaker in the order recommended – generally in this order: milk, eggs, butter, flour, salt, sugar, and in a small well not touching the salt, sugar, or liquid, place the yeast.
  2. Select the white bread dough cycle. If your machine has an “add” alarm, check the dough. Poking it with a finger should result in a dent that fills in after a minute. Too stiff? Add a tablespoon of milk. Too soft? Add a tablespoon of flour. I’ve never had to do either with this recipe.
  3. Allow the bread machine to complete the mix and rise cycle (approximately 1 hr). Dough should have doubled in size. If not and your kitchen is cool, turn your oven on to the lowest possible setting and place the dough inside covered with a towel. Allow the dough to continue its rise. Don’t allow it to over proof – just doubled in size.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface or silpat. Roll out to about 21″ long x 16″ wide in a rectangle shape. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.
  5. Brush entire surface of the dough with melted butter. Cover butter with sugar/cinnamon and pat gently into dough. Top with raisins and walnuts (keep 1″ from all edges) *I didnt add any raisins but did sprinkle a light layer of crushed pecans.
  6. Start rolling from the long edge and keeping it as tight as possible without squeezing out all of the filling. Cut into 12 rolls by cutting into quarters first, then cutting each quarter into 3 rolls.
  7. Prepare a 9×13″ pan with Cooking Spray. (See freezer instructions above if you’ll be freezing all or some of the rolls). Rolls will double in size so don’t place them side by side and give them room to grow.
  8. Cover with a towel and allow to rise 30-60 minutes or until doubled in size (rise time depends on room temperature – if your room is cold, use the oven method above).
  9. Preheat oven to 400 (375 for glass pan). Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. FROSTING: In large mixing bowl beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar and finally vanilla. *I cut the frosting recipe in half and added milk & powdered sugar mixture. 
  11. Frost warm rolls immediately or freeze in small containers for use later. Use within 3 months of freezing. *Who is freezing these? LOL Eat them now now now! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

New Year Resolutions

Ok, so this year I'm all about the practical new year resolutions. I know we set these huge expectations for the new year. We are all geared up to make big changes and to finally become the person we've always envisioned as our real true selves. Well, this year Im setting practical and reasonable goals.

1. Workout. That's it. Get your fat ass up and exercise. Im not going to say how many times per week, how many minutes or anything. Just workout this year.

2. Spend a year in Germany NOT pregnant. Let's try a pregnant free year in Germany. I want to enjoy our last two years here without gaining another 40lbs and lugging yet another car seat into every establishment. Im already a circus with my double stroller, backpack, and baby dangling from a front pack attached to my body. Wait, doesnt that count as a workout? Aha! Goal 1...check!

3. Dont worry about the pile of laundry. Who would've thought 2 adults and 3 babies made so much laundry? Im not going to worry about it anymore. I'll just do a load when I remember to. That, or I'll teach Gabby how to load the washing machine...that's an idea.

4. Get out more. Do more things out and about. We live closer to our friends now and Im not currently pregnant. So, no excuses. Time to get out there and visit more places and people and try more foods!

I think those 4 are good, reasonable goals. Pretty much Im telling myself to get out of the house and eat! Ha! Now we're talking about some pretty damn good resolutions. I challenge each of you to evaluate your own resolutions and compare them to my pretty awesome ones.

On a more serious note. I made the best dessert ever the other day. I combined some recipes I've seen on Pinterest (yes, Im still addicted). It's a 3 layer gooey goodness.

bottom layer- oreo & graham cracker crust (oreos, graham crackers, butter & cinnamon)
next a chocolate chip cookie layer- however you want to do this. just spread it evenly. I used a box kit.
top layer is a brownie layer.
bake until the brownie is cooked enough that you can push a toothpick in and it comes out clean.
let this cool all the way so your layers dont collapse (yep I learned that one the hard way)
EAT! We'll just say I took this picture so you could see the middle with all of the layers NOT because we ate half of it before we could get the shot LOL.

Enjoy your day with the ones you love! CIAO!