Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ghost of Halloween past

Over time I've realized that Sam and I definitely have opposite theories on celebrating birthdays.  The minute it hits August 1st I spend the whole month talking about my birthday, and the whole week of my birthday is a "whatever Michelle wants she gets" kind of week.  Sam even magically comes up with new friends to celebrate my birthday after just PCS-ing to a new place (he's such a keeper).  He on the other hand shares his birthday with tons of ghost and goblins and never really make a big hoopla about it being his b-day.  I guess someone always ends up throwing him an epic party in the end, so maybe it's part of his master plan.  I have to say that if I could pick any holiday to have my birthday it would be Halloween, so I'm glad I lucked out and married into such a great birthday.  We've had soooo much fun celebrating over the years!!!! 

2007- You beat Hank Aaron's home run record, and I was "the fasted woman in the world" - steroids work wonder, eh? 

2008 - The government bailed both of us out.

2009 - You were playing Army even though it coincided with getting your results for passing the bar exam (lame).  But you allowed this awesomeness to happen, so I forgive you!  You would have made one heck of a Billy Ray!

2010 -  You had an addiction.  I chased you around Florida C-bus with your golf club.  

2011 - I sold my football regalia for some awesome tattoos. You paid the price and started standing on street corners looking for work.

2012  - You wore camo and went to a hot place covered in sand.  I decided not to go out this year because sand and my hair don't get along, duh.
2013 - You have a man-crush on Burt Reynolds and constantly give away that you're a secret agent.  I have freakishly large hands and shoot you in the foot for being an idiot.  You go around saying things like this:  "Burt Reynolds is my spirit guide" ** "Hey Cyril. Cyril. CYRIL! I'm saving Lana, as usual!"  ** "How'd you get life insurance, Lana? Don't they know you're in the danger zone?" ** "Lana. Lana. Lana? LANA! Danger zone."  I say things like:  "Did you say man-crush"** "Yes, I AM putting you in the corner" ** "Nooope!" ** "Yuppp!" **

This guy has definitely exceeded his goal of LIVING his 20's, and I'm glad I was around for the better part of it!  I can't wait to see what your thirties bring.  Our costumes can only get better, right? I love, Love, LOVE you!!!!! 

Happy Birthday, hubs!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

The REAL Oktoberfest

We made it!  I feel like we just checked a huge box on our bucket list making it down to Munich, or Munchen, as the Germans call it.  I mean, my first Oktoberfest I traveled 3 hours to Ann Arbor, MI to visit my cousin Sarah, so I feel like this is an accomplishment.
Where are our dirndls?
So, yes, we traveled down to Bavaria.  We decided to drive down, since a round trip train ticket for two would be around 160 euro and our good old 4-cylinder Honda would only take a tank and a half of gas.  This was a great idea until on the way home we got stuck in 4 hours of traffic, so the four hour drive turned into eight hours.  Not. fun.   

We had a lot of fun experiencing the largest beer festival in the world.  We were extremely lucky to be able to go this year.  In order to experience Oktoberfest you have to plan six month in advance.  We attempted to plan in April while Sam was deployed, but we had no luck.  Our luck changed when Sam started working with some pretty amazing people and they invited us to take their last two tickets.  Yay for new friends!

The tickets were for the Hacker-Festzelt tent.  There are ten people per table and your ticket gets you 3L of beer and a chicken.  In case you were wondering, the chicken was ah-mazing.  It was actually quite impressive that the tents can serve and feed everyone.  We're talking up to 10,000 people in each tent.  As a public health microbiologist I was astonished!  They really have this show down.  Our tickets were from 12-5PM.  At five they came and moved us out.  It's understandable, they have more people to serve for the evening shift.  This was sad though because we were having a blast, and we needed to continue the fun.  The problem is you can't get into another tent unless you have a ticket.  So, we wandered around a bit and one of our friends knew a friend at the Paulaner tent.  We stood outside the tent for a while and begged the gate keepers (that's appropriate, right?) along with everyone else to let us in.  Finally, we asked the friend on the inside to get the waitress to tell the gate keepers to let us come inside, and it worked!  So, if you're going and don't have an evening ticket maybe this tip will work for you too!  

This is how we started oktoberfest.  This guy bought us drinks at the bar while telling us random stories about why he has tape on his nipples.  TMI?  I think so.

Our first night in Munich we got all dressed up to go to dinner at the Augustiner Keller because there's no such thing as wearing dirndl and lederhosen too much!

They have great bier.

And great people!

Look what I found.  Schnitzel!!!!!!

The Hacker-Festzelt tent

View from our table!


One of our friends is allergic to gluten, so they brought her a giant wine schorle!

Hanchen!  German for chicken.

Most of what  I remember from the tents was singing this over and over again:  "Ein Prosit, ein Prosit; Der Gemütlichkeit; Ein Prosit, ein Prosit; Der Gemütlichkeit; OANS ZWOA DREI! G’SUFFA"!

Probably 2L's down...

 After we were kicked out of the tent.  Still smiling.

Major tip:  Do not travel to Oktoberfest if you don't have a ticket.  You are more than likely not going to touch a beer.  You can arrive to tents uber early in the morning to snag a seat, but you will most likely only be able to drink from 8am to noon.  Then you'll be stuck outside at the fairgrounds beer-less.  

Gut, Besser, Paulaner.

The Oktoberfest party at our hotel pub!  We danced the night away.

A short taste of Oktoberfest!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Buckeyes in Wiesbaden?

Okay, the order is supposed to be the good... the bad...the ugly, but I'm using the down-side... the up-side...the flip-side.  Down-side is going first because then we can focus on the good and put all the bad in the past.  

The down-side:
  • I'm sad to announce that we did not get off-post housing.  After filing three exception to the policy memos and three months, the battle is over .  We Sam gave it a good fight, and if this is the worst thing we have going for us then I'd say we have it pretty good. I've been dreading posting the news on here because it makes it that much more real.  Tear.
  • All of our clothing is wrinkled and smells like it's been in storage.  Can you put a claim in for wrinkled suits?

The up-side:
  • Our unaccompanied baggage is here!!!!  This means I have more than one long sleeve sweater to choose from, I can wear boots in the chilly fall weather, and we have our dishes!!!!  I didn't know how much I missed them until I had them all laid out in front of me!  

I felt like this after putting all of our clothes and dishes away.  Not sure how I'll feel next week when our HHG arrive...

  • This tiny apartment living will give me some crafting and decor inspiration.  For example, getting rid of the horrid "boob" apartment lighting.  Yikes!  Now if only there was a Hobby Lobby within 5 mins of our house like in good-ol' Clarksvegas.  Who knew I'd become so dependent on that place!
  • I found a place to get my hair done!  Our sponsor rocks and recommended Gold Rausch in Wiesbaden (ask for Nicole Quabo)!  She did a great job considering she didn't know the time commitment blow drying and flat ironing my hair would take.  Picture this:  All the German clients staring as two girls tackle flat-ironing my hair.  I love the cut!  What do you think?
  • AFN has been restored!  We're back on track to watch our favorite shows and random movies.  They even played all of the shows we missed the previous week on a loop.  Score!  I wish they would do this more often for all of the shows I miss during the week.  This could be AFN's attempt at DVR.
  • We did the REAL Oktoberfest in Munich!  Be on the look out for a blog post.  You do not want to miss pictures of Sam in his lederhosen!
The flip-side:
You: What does flip-side even mean in this context?  I'm going for the really exciting news here...just go with it!  I found some real Buckeyes in Wiesbaden!!!!  No, not OSU fans.  Real. Buckeye. Nuts.  This must be good luck, right?

Okay, they are red instead of dark brown, but I'm looking for the silver lining.  On a side note if you haven't seen the movie Silver Linings Playbook go rent it now. It's one of the best movies we've seen in a while!  Back to Buckeyes.  I know what you're thinking:  Michelle those are chestnuts.  Okay, I did a lot of internet research googling ("Are there red Buckeyes" Buckeye trees in Germany" "Buckeyes vs chestnuts")  to ensure these are in fact Buckeyes...or at least a relative.
Based on the tree leaves, burrs, edibleness (not edible), and shape of the nut I've deduced these are in fact red horse chestnuts.  Check out more info here.  Fun fact:  In Germany they were used to mark storage cellars for beer because the shade they created kept the beer cool.  AND hybrids were created using the American Buckeye tree.  So, for the sake of my happiness, we will call these German Buckeyes (are you getting annoyed that I'm capitalizing Buckeye?  "fear the nut!").  OH - IO!

Our German Buckeyes (I may or may not have solicited the neighbor's little girl for help)!
Real Buckeyes

Also, for a quick and easy way to get updates, follow my blog using bloglovin'!  It's a great way to organize all of your blogs and the mobile app rocks!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Surviving on the same clothing for 101 days!

Can you believe it?  Yes, we have been surviving on the same clothing for 101 days!  More worthy of note is that we left the 101st Airborne Division 101 days ago.  I feel like this is an accomplishment seeing as it did change seasons here in Germany and we thought we’d only be without clothing for at the most 30 days and I carefully calculated the pick-up days of unaccompanied baggage (UB) and our house hold goods (HHG).  UB is flown over earlier, so it will be there close to when you arrive.  I had them pick this up a week after Sam came home from deployment.  Talk about a crazy household.  If you know at all how moving goes, you know this was a mess.  We were up the night before contemplating what to put in the shipment and what not to; including, what to give to Goodwill and what to keep.  We decided to pack all of our clothing, so we would have it early on because, you know, the whole change of season thing that would happen. 

Here's a random picture of a picture of some of the stuff we packed in UB.

Here’s a list, since the pic above is not at all in any kind of order:
Most of our wardrobes
Pots and pans
Dog bed
Dog crate
Dog food bowls
Mop and Broom
Dishes, including glasses
Coffee to-go cups
Baking dishes
Pasta strainer
Cutting board
Cooking utensils
Measuring cups
Water bottles
Protein shakers
A cook book (because I suck at thinking of recipes)
A workout mat
2 camping chairs (in case we didn’t get loaner furniture – Sam used these when he moved to ft Campbell for a solid month)
Blow up mattress
Trash can

I thought we were doing pretty well that day and it would all be wonderful to have everything from essential clothing items to cleaning supplies.  Plus, since we were moving at high PCS season I was pretty happy with myself that I got a blow-up mattress.  Well, all of my pre-arranged packing and planning is a waste because it has all been sitting in storage since 1 week after we arrived in July.  It should go on the record how amazingly I timed it though.  Our entire contents of our house (HHG) arrived and has been in storage since mid-August.

You : Why are you sitting here complaining about not having any clothing?  Well, it is mainly our fault (when I say mainly, I mean 52%).  When we arrived we thought we would be a shoe-in to live off post.  We (and everyone we talked to) thought for sure that Sam’s job would make us ineligible to stay on post.  We thought, oh we’ll submit and exception to the policy (ETP) and it will get approved and we will be on our merry way looking for housing in this amazing city.  Not the case, we waited 14 days (the time it takes to get the ETP looked at by housing) for a denial letter saying it would be financially irresponsible to place us off post.  We immediately submitted another ETP again citing the issues we thought we’d come across actually did happen within that 14 day period.  And we were still denied another time around.

During that whole time we were staying in the hotel, but when we got the second denial we were forced to take on post quarters.  The first place we looked at was a joke.  It looked like we were living on the courtyard in The Wire.  We both decided we would never be able to actually have visitors there, so we accepted quarters at a different location.  This place is all of 900 sq ft and it will be a miracle if most of our furniture fits without feeling like we are hoarders.  The upside is there is a room in the basement for storage, so all that doesn’t fit can sit down there for 2-3 years.

Okay, so yes, we have accepted our quarters and have been in this place for a month now.  You:  Why haven’t you accepted at least your unaccompanied baggage?  That would seem like the logical thing to do, but we wanted to submit one last ETP, and did you see the list of all the stuff that we packed in UB?  If we accept any of our shipments and are granted to live off post, then we are responsible for moving it to the next location.  So, we’ll say the answer is pure laziness.  I still stand firm that this is 52% our fault.  So, what’s in these glorious bags that we packed 101 days ago?

Yup, we only packed one big suitcase, 2 carry-on sized bags, and 2 backpacks because we thought we would be without UB for only a few weeks.  Don’t you love the backpacks?  We gifted them to ourselves for our European travels.  And we’ve used them already…a lot!  We were even able to get all of the stuff we needed for a week in Paris.  I guess you’re getting to see that I’m not a normal "girl" when it comes to packing, but hey, it was hot out and you only really need sandals in the summer, right? So, here’s a list of everything in those bags:

3 workout outfits
3 dresses
5 pairs of shorts
3 pairs of jeans
15 shirts (a variation of dress and t-shirts)
1 long sleeve sweater
2 professional dresses (in case I got an interview)
Make-up (duh)
Nail polish (it makes me happy)
2 pairs of sandals
1 pair of running shoes
1 pair of closed toed shoes
1 pair of heels
1 clutch
1 purse
1 jacket

1 ACU uniform
Dress blues (in case he had a trial…he’s worn them twice now)
5 work shirts / socks
2 pairs of jeans
1 pair of khakis
2 pairs of shorts
2 workout outfits
10 shirts
2 polos
2 sweaters
1 collared shirt
1 jacket
1 pair of running shoes
1 pair of dress shoes
1 pair of Dress blues shoes
1 pair of flip flops
1 pair of everyday sneakers

Random stuff:
Shampoos and conditioners (my hair is very special)
Prescriptions (Make sure to get these before going OCONUS because they can’t transfer them overseas)
Measuring tape (this has come in handy)
3 towels
Dog shampoo
Dog bed
Dog toys

Craziness, right?  I think we are just stellar packers to get all that stuff in those bags.  My picture isn’t exactly accurate because we had one Vera Bradley weekender bag too.  We really haven’t hated our lives too much based on what we brought.  Just wish we had packed a few more warmer pieces of clothing, more church clothes, and dog nail clippers (Emma tore her dew claw the first week we arrived).  And I do laundry on the regular, so Sam can have work clothes. 

A few positive things that came from this experience are that now Emma is trained to stay out of her crate when we leave, I’ve gotten less dependent on a cook book, and the neighbor is really nice and cooks me Brazilian food while I play with her adorable 2 year old. 

We were extremely lucky to have a great sponsor and our friends we met in the beginning who let us borrow stuff when we moved into on post quarters.  They let us borrow things like bedding, pots & pans, and dishes.  I’m not sure how we’ll ever re-pay them.  Even with the help of these amazing people we couldn’t get by without buying some things.  We had to buy a few things including dog nail clippers and a sweater from H&M for me to have another long sleeve option.  

Here’s a few pics of how we’ve been living:

This 13 inch TV with DVD player has been our saving grace.  We got it at the on post Thrift shop for $15.  Score!  Obviously we’re going to donate it back, but we only had to buy an adapter cable and we are able to get 10 free channels from AFN.  We supplement this with DVD’s we borrow from the Wiesbaden library.  We’ve been able to catch-up on New Girl and Community. Since the government has shutdown, our AFN service has also been shutdown, so I see a lot of DVD’s in our future…unless the library shuts down, yikes!  Don’t you love our dual-usage of Emma’s crate?  Classy, I know.

This blue throw is doubling as our curtains in our bedroom.  My thrifty side couldn’t imagine buying new curtains, since we have ~1000 pairs.  So, I opted for this throw blanket that we could use later as an accent in our guest bedroom.

It looks pretty bad, but don’t you think it will look great on this bed?

The movers forgot to pack this, but in hindsight it's a major plus because it makes it feel like home.

I HAD to buy these pillows, because I’ve been looking for this ikat pattern everywhere and these colors match our living room décor.  They were marked down to an astonishing price of only 8 Euros.  Can you believe it?  I even contemplated making my own pillows last year but even Hobby Lobby didn’t carry the fabric.  Who knew I just needed to move to a whole new country to find them.  Don’t you love them?  This store is amazing, and I will be doing a blog about it eventually.  For now these beauties have been making the loaner furniture that much more comfy.

This vacuum has saved my sanity.  I don't even have kiddos like you, Jenn.  One thing I can’t stand is stuff on my feet.  So, I end up using this item all. the. time.

We were invited to a Great Gatsby party, and since we didn’t bring our 1920’s attire with us, we had to go out and buy a new black dress and suit.  Sorry, for the mirror pic, but doesn’t he look dapper?

We went to Durkheim's Wurstmarkt wine fest and definitely needed some dirndl and lederhosen for that event.  We wore them again this past weekend for an Oktoberfest party, and we’ll get more use out of them this weekend for the real Oktoberfest in Munich. Probably our best buy yet!  This is just a preview of our outfits....

Luckily it's Oktoberfest season, so we might get by just wearing our lederhosen and dirndl on a regular basis.


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