Monday, June 24, 2013

The Weekend Recap

How was your weekend? I worked on Friday night, so mine just flew by! I was so happy to be done with the craziness that was last week. I had a program start at work, another one to work Friday night and a speech to give to an important group of people on Thursday afternoon. Public speaking and I don't get along. I did fine though and in the end, preparing better notes and rehearsing in front of Craig countless times got me through the talk with no problems and just a bit of uneasiness in my voice in the beginning.

On Saturday, I did some reading and really cleaned the house in areas I hadn't touched before vacation. It felt good to get it sparkling again.

We ventured out to the mall to look for shoes for Craig and I was on the hunt for a wallet. My coin section is messed up and finding a new one has proven to be quite difficult. Sometimes I really despise shopping when I can't find what I want.

I went to a different mall on Sunday on my way to meet my mom at Costco. I had a lovely lunch at Panera--a Mediterranean veggie sandwich with black bean soup and an apple.

Our plants are growing so well this summer. We even have a little baby pepper growing!

Craig and I did some grocery shopping on Saturday night and saw these wonderful signs throughout the store, but mostly concentrated in the produce section.

We still continue to look intermittently for two kittens who are brothers, male, and about 9 weeks old. They all just get me excited with their adorable faces and colors. I especially loved this guy, Mikey, who was waving to the camera! I kind of stalk the various Wisconsin Humane Society sites now, hoping a perfect pair pops up soon so Tanzi can be a big brother again and have some company.

I tried out a new product (sort of) on Sunday. Thanks to a word-of-mouth marketing program I am in called BzzAgent, I received Dr. Scholl's For Her High Heel insoles for free. Unfortunately, the design didn't work well with these particular shoes that I wore yesterday, so I removed them before I left the house. I will try them out with another pair of heels later in the week. They felt great, but hit my arch in the wrong spot, I suspect because these heels were so skinny on the bottom.

Do you fear public speaking as much as I do? I am so glad to be done with that experience and I really think it is great practice, but I hope I don't have to public speak for a long time.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Europe Trip Recap: Transportation with Coach Bus and Air Berlin

This will be the first of many parts about my trip to Europe with my mom from May 16 through June 1, 2013. We had a fantastic time, so I want to share our experiences with others and for my own sake, to preserve the memories we made on this special trip. I feel so blessed that I got to do this with my mom.

We started out our trip at the Coach bus depot in Milwaukee and took a bus to Chicago O'Hare. It's a really easy and cost effective way to get to O'Hare and I would highly recommend it.

I was pretty teary eyed when it came time to saying goodbye to Craig and my dad for two weeks.

Our plane! I found a great deal via the Kayak app last December, so our tickets were really cheap! We thought the service on Air Berlin was great and it was very similar to other international airlines I have flown before.

Pretty soon, we found ourselves saying goodbye to the Chicago skyline.

We received cute goodie bags on the plane filled with ear plugs, a sleeping/eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste and grey socks (I later used everything but the dental kit while traveling).

I ordered both of us vegetarian meals and we were lucky enough to get tasty and filling meals each time.

I did not end up sleeping much at all on the flight over. My mom rested a bit. The funniest moment was when she woke up to find our steward standing above her with a wet disposable and warm cloth. I knew what it was, but she had no clue what he was presenting her with. She gave him the "dirtiest look" (as my family refers to them as) and he gave her a funny look back.

The in-flight entertainment included movies, music, games, the map showing where we were currently flying over, etc. I get a little obsessed with the map and enjoyed that we got to fly close to or over places like Iceland and Scotland.

I discovered a new musician on the flight, so I had to snap a picture of her name and album. Her name was familiar and I thought she was the actress from Inglorious Bastards and I ended up being correct. I kind of love Damien Rice, so that tune she sang with him really resonated with me.

After 8 hours, we found ourselves flying over Germany and the beautiful yellow mustard fields. You can also see a few windmills below. I think America needs many more windmills and solar panels as the Germans are way ahead of us on green energy sources!

Finally, we disembarked at Berlin's Tegel airport. We had a direct flight, which eased my mind a bit about our luggage.

Tegel airport is being replaced by a new one in three years or so. It is advertised as opening soon, but we spoke to an airport employee when we left Germany and he said that they are still a long ways away from completing it.

I think Tegel's disorganization and small size really made many connecting flight passengers angry and us tired passengers disappointed. We had a long line to wait in for Passport control, but once we were through, it also was hard to find certain things in the airport.

We took the TXL bus (2.40 Euros one way) to Washingtonplatz, which is right outside the Hauptbahnhof in Berlin. We walked into the Hauptbahnhof to find the Visitor Information station and asked the best route to our hotel. 

Traveling to another country is never easy, but I'd say that we lucked out with great transporation throughout the trip.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Yummy greens, VB6 and my Dad's Birthday

Here is what I have been up to all week!

I've been getting through this bag of greens from Trader Joe's. This is by far my favorite TJ's purchase I have made lately. I love this combination in smoothies (as you'll later see), on sandwiches and as a base for a salad.

This salad tasted like a dessert to me, in the sense that it was really satisfying. It contained those TJ greens, cucumber, grape tomatoes, avocado (my favorite food lately), feta, and sunflower seeds. I topped it with a homemade Italian dressing. Maybe it tasted better because I ate it outside on our back patio!

Last night, I enjoyed a smoothie that I will definitely be blending up again soon. It had the TJ greens, Trader Joe's organic frozen raspberries and strawberries, Trader Joe's vanilla almond milk, vanilla protein powder, and ground flax.

This book came in at the library and I fear I won't have a ton of time to read it. But, I know I can carve out some bus time to dedicate to it. I started it at lunch today and I love this quote from the foreword by Dr. Dean Ornish, "There is a convergence of forces that make this the right book, right now. At a time when the limitations of high-tech medicine such as drugs and surgery are becoming clearer and the costs are unsustainable, the power of low-tech approaches such as what we eat are becoming more well-documented than ever." Amen!

On Tuesday, I drove out to the country to celebrate my dad's 77th birthday! We had an awesome meal--I had a veggie burger and everyone else had hamburgers. My mom served corn on the cob, watermelon, a fantastic salad from Costco (greens with dried cranberries and a poppyseed dressing), and banana cake for dessert. So yummy!

Other than that, I've been trying to get outside for walks and just to sit in the sun (with sunscreen on of course), as much as possible.

Also, if you saw my last post about my standing desk at work--I am still loving it and find myself having to sit more than I'd like to because of certain summer projects. I have been tracking my steps with my pedometer (someday I'll upgrade to a FitBit) and finding that I move a lot more throughout the day now that I stand more. I keep finding myself well over or close to 10,000 steps, so that's encouraging!

Oh and I have to thank my genius husband for fixing our air conditioner! It broke earlier this week and because he is resourceful and the type that isn't scared to try to fix anything around our house, he fixed it by replacing a part. He was motivated by the fact that he can't sleep at night if the house is above 70 degrees. Thank god we have had some cooler nights lately!

Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Since getting back from Europe...

Since I got back from Europe a week ago...

-I have been taking lots of naps and trying to get over jet lag.

-I honestly have had a bit of culture shock regarding the American lifestyle. I wish our cities were more walkable/bike-able, our stores (and cars and houses) less huge, we got off of our phones and talked to each other face to face, and our food was less processed. Don't worry, I'm not going to go all Adam Levine on our country and say that I hate it. I just wish we did things a little differently sometimes. I felt very similarly when I came back from living in Europe for six months. And trust me, I missed home and all that comes with it when we were at the end of our trip.

-I made a standing desk at work. I lost 7 lbs. in Europe and I suspect it was simply from eating less and moving more. I contemplated making a standing desk before I left for Europe, so I finally did it once I got back and felt restless. I have to sit once in a while due to some of the projects I work on, but I stand for about 90% of my day now.

I also want to take more walks on my lunch break. I have been wearing my pedometer and successfully getting close to or over 10,000 steps a day.

-I've been craving greens and whole foods. I think it was because we ate so many sandwiches and not enough salads in Europe.

-We got our garden planted yesterday, at last! We have six tomato plants, two pepper and one strawberry. 

I have a lot to get done today, so I'll be back later this week. I also feel like I may be blogging less and living life more, so don't be surprised if you don't hear from me as often throughout the week. I do plan to get some trip recaps posted soon!