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!