30-Day Challenge: Halfway

Two weeks ago, I decided I needed more accountability in my life, so I embarked upon a 30-day challenge. My goal was to do at least 30 minutes of “non-normal life required” exercise per day. Unfortunately I’ve gone far too long with counting my nearly unavoidable walk to the train station and back every day as “exercise,” which it is quite clearly is not because I can’t very well fly there. 

So… how’s it going? Well….

Via

I wish I was the kind of person who popped out of bed at 6am like a piece of crispy toast.

No I don’t.

I do however, wish I was the kind of person who didn’t have a severe complex about anyone seeing me exercise. I wrote a bit about this weird phobia of mine last summer when I was trying to start working out, but as it turns out… it’s much worse than I thought.

How much worse? 

Well, now that I have another person in my house 9 out of 10 nights, it has reared its ugly head. All went fine the first few days of the challenge which fell during the week. I was easily able to get my trusty 40-minute Pilates video in while I was home alone. But then the weekend rolled around. I told BV he was welcome to do it with me, which we had actually done a few weeks before, with a fair amount of giggling on my part… basically picture a daddy long legs trying to do the warrior pose. I thought he could benefit from some stretching… plus I was curious if he really couldn’t sit cross-legged, as he claims. I insisted on standing behind him, and between our positions in the room and my amusement, it worked out pretty well. 

So on the first Saturday of the challenge (day 4), I told him he was more than welcome to do the video with me. Otherwise he wasn’t allowed to be in the room. Problem with this? Yeah… remember that midget-sized apartment I House Hunters International-ed with? Still live there. He wasn’t in the mood to stretch his legs, and after a spirited discussion he decided to start showering while I started the video. 

Twenty minutes later he tried to come back in the living room, because for some strange and unknown reason, he didn’t feel like hanging out in the bathroom for another twenty minutes post-shower. I was not particularly pleased about being interrupted, and tried to kick him out. Reasonable, right? Yeah, not so much. He wanted to read his university stuff in the living room, but I wasn’t having any possibility of him looking at me. I’m flattering myself, I know. After a slightly more “spirited” discussion in which I tried to get him to sit the wrong way on the bed facing the corner (and with an additional warning to not turn around), I got really pissed and gave up. That was the end of that for the day. We compromised the rest of the weekend with beer-free Wii, and some walks around town.

I realize that this whole thing was ridiculous. I know.

Luckily though I’ve only run into that problem in the first weekend. This past weekend I had the house to myself, so no issue there. I guess we see how it goes on Saturday morning this week… 

However, I’m happy to report that besides that hiccup, the whole thing has gone reasonably well. I haven’t pushed anything too far yet, but that’s in the plan. A few days I had to just claim walking as my “exercise,” and one of those days involved a walk to and from the Volksfest to drink beer and eat pretzels, but I’m still counting it. To be fair, the tram to the fest stops a block from my apartment, so we really did take the more health-conscious way to get there. So I’m counting it.*

My plan for the second half of this challenge is to add in the old Boot Camp video, and maybe some other options. I have to peruse the exercise video options on Hulu and see if anything appeals. But I’d like to kick it up a notch. I thought I caught a hint of muscle today, but it might just have been stomach flub redistributing itself. Hard to say. So… let’s see how it goes!

*Do you hear that? That’s the sound of stretching.   

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30 Day Challenge: Because I’m a Lazy Bum

At this time last year the weather was warming up, beer gardens were opening, and I even spent a weekend outdoors with my friends up in the village. And this year? I woke up yesterday morning, looked out the window, and swore enough to make a sailor blush. A fresh dusting of snow was covering everything in sight and I was not a happy camper. I continued to mutter obscenities into my scarf on the walk into town, especially every time the wind blew Arctic air into my face. Unfortunately I had an appointment I couldn’t miss, and desperately needed to get to the Müller (don’t forget to buy toilet paper on Saturday in Germany or you will have to be sehr stingy on Sunday), and there was no way I could avoid going out into the cold.

The cold has remained today, and I’m sitting here right now pondering the mental sanity of all the kids that still go to the park across the street every day. Rain, shine, or freezing cold, they are there, and I’m guessing that their parents throw them out whether they like it or not. If they yelled that much in my house, that’s what I would do. 

With the 4-day Easter weekend coming up, BV and I were hoping to get away and do a little hiking, but it doesn’t look like the weather is going to cooperate with us. The temperatures should go up, but the forecast is calling for gray and rain in all the places we were thinking about going. So what to do? 

Honestly, I have so had enough of this winter. I’ve basically been a lazy bum since last fall, and now I’m paying for it. I have no energy, and can’t seem to do anything productive, despite my excess of free time. So I’ve decided to do something about it. 

I’m sure plenty of people have seen the excess of “30-day fitness challenge” pins on Pinterest, or the monthly photo challenges that are oh-so popular on Instagram. I even did one last summer when I first got my new phone, and I did enjoy having something that I “had to do” for a month. It gave me some accountability, and I’m definitely the kind of person that needs to have that in their life. Back in January when I was taking over some new classes from a fellow teacher I went along with him to the company for his last lesson, and to meet the students. Since it was his last lesson, he decided to do something a little different, and showed this video to the groups. 

We discussed it with all the groups, and he asked them to come up with ideas for their own 30-day challenges, and think about doing them sometime in the future. The lesson went over really well, and since then I’ve thought a lot about it. But that’s the thing, I just think about things. Then I get on the internet, and find other ways of wasting my time. But really, it’s gotta stop. 
Last summer I did fairly well with being more active. I was confronted with the horror of having to wear a swimsuit in Greece, and that spurred me to act. I lost a bit of weight, a few inches, and felt pretty good overall. After the vacation, I went straight into the House Hunters shoot, then straight back to a ton of work. BV and I started dating seriously, and all of a sudden I had no time. I got behind on paperwork, my yoga mat gathered dust, and my bookshelf was severely neglected. Time management has never been my strong point, and while I have my workload fairly well-managed right now, it’s been a difficult few months to balance everything. My juggling skills are definitely a work in progress.
The trip to America is now looming and I don’t have much time to get things in order. I’m standing up in my friend’s wedding, and this time it’s not a swimsuit (thank God!), but a bridesmaid dress that I’m worried about. The measurements that we based the size on were measurements that I took after vacation time last summer, and there’s no way that those are correct today. I haven’t gained back everything I lost last year, but some of it has returned. I know I’m not going to look like the model, but I’d like to not look like a tank.

Via

I’ll arrive in Wisconsin a week before the wedding, and if that dress doesn’t fit and can’t be altered to fit, I will be completely screwed. Being the maid of honor and causing a catastrophe the week before Angie’s wedding is about the last thing I want to do, so I’ve got to get a move on. I kept saying I’ll start on the 1st of February, I’ll start on the 1st of March, I’ll start next week. But starting is the worst part, right? The next two weeks are a bit lighter due to the Easter holidays, and excuse time is over. So, the 30-day challenge. 
I’m not trying to become a marathon runner (because I can’t run).
I’m not giving up beer (because that’s stupid).
I’m not going to obsessively pin workouts and inspirational quotes (because I think it’s silly, and pins don’t make you get off your ass).
I’m not going to count walking to the train station every day as “exercise” (because I can’t ride a unicorn there, so it’s a normal daily activity).
I am going to do a minimum 30 minutes a day of some form of exercise.
I am going to be accountable for this because otherwise I’ll lay on the couch and do nothing.
I am going to take my vitamins like a good girl.
Thirty minutes doesn’t sound like a lot but when you don’t get out of bed on the weekends until 1pm, you lose a lot of time. That has to stop. I have a little over 60 days until we leave for the States, and if I can reform my habits like I did last summer, I stand a chance.
The thing is, I felt better last summer. I’d like to have some energy again. Hiking season is coming up (whenever it stops snowing), and I don’t want to be a wuss about it. If I can get a little bit fitter before the first hike, maybe I won’t want to die 15 minutes in. Not making any promises on that one, but it would be a nice bonus. Today is Day One.

Travel List Challenge

For a while now, this travel challenge list has been floating around the interwebz. I saw it ages ago on the lovely Sara Louise‘s blog, and kept meaning to do it and forgetting. C’est la vie, non? But in light of the super-awesome travel year that was 2012, I thought I’d do it now and see what I wanted to check off next… goals!*

1. Alamo – San Antonio, Texas, USA
2. Alhambra – Granada, Spain
3. Andros Island – Bahamas
4. Angel Falls – Venezuela
5. Angkor Wat – Angkor, Cambodia
6. Atlantic City Boardwalk – Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA
7. Ayers Rock – Australia
   
8. Big Ben – London, England

September 2012

 
9. Bora Bora – Polynesia
 
10. British Museum – London, England (was in London, but didn’t go. Damn.) 
11. Canals of Amsterdam – Amsterdam, Netherlands 

 
September 2010
 

12. Cathedral of Seville – Seville, Spain

13. Cave of Crystals – Mexico

14. Christ the Redeemer – Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

15. Cinque Terre National Park – Italy

16. Colosseum – Rome, Italy
 
February 2012
 
17. Crater Lake National Park – Oregon, USA
18. Dead Sea – Israel/Jordan
19. Death Valley National Park – California, USA
20. Devil’s Tower – Wyoming, USA
21. Dome of the Rock – Jerusalem, Israel

22. Easter Island Statues – Polynesia
23. Edinburgh Castle – Edinburgh, Scotland
24. Eiffel Tower – Paris, France (July 2001)
25. Empire State Building – New York City, New York, USA (8th grade field trip… whenever that was. Math is hard right now.)
26. Forbidden City – Beijing, China
27. French Quarter – New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
28. Galapagos Islands – Ecuador
29. Gateway Arch – St. Louis, Missouri, USA
30. Gettysburg Battlefield – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, USA
31. Glacier Bay Basin – Alaska, USA
32. Glacier National Park – Montana, USA
33. Glowworm Cave – New Zealand
34. Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, California, USA

November 2008

 
35. Grand Canal – Venice, Italy
 
36. Grand Canyon – Arizona, USA

37. Grand Mosque in Mecca – Saudi Arabia
38. Great Barrier Reef – Queensland, Australia
39. Great Mosque of Córdoba – Córdoba, Spain
40. Great Wall of China – China

41. Hagia Sophia – Istanbul, Turkey

42. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Hawaii, USA

43. Hollywood Boulevard – Hollywood, California, USA

44. Iguazu Falls – Argentina and Brazil

45. Kiyomizu-dera – Kyoto, Japan

46. Kremlin – Moscow, Russia

47. Lake Titicaca – Peru

48. Las Ramblas – Barcelona, Spain

49. Las Vegas Strip – Las Vegas, Nevada
 
September or October? 2006
 

50. Leaning Tower of Pisa – Pisa, Italy

51. Louvre Museum – Paris, France (July 2001)

52. Macchu Picchu – Peru

53. Matterhorn – Switzerland

54. Mayan Pyramids of Chichen Itza – Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

55. Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York City, New York, USA (8th grade field trip again.)

56. Mount Everest – Nepal

57. Mount Fuji – Japan

58. Mount Kilimanjaro – Tanzania

59. Mount Rushmore – Keystone, South Dakota, USA

60. Napa Valley – California, USA (We were hiking, had no cash, and had to go to a vineyard with free tasting. Woo!)
 
November 2008
 

61. Ngorongoro Crater – Tanzania

62. Niagara Falls – New York, USA

63. Notre Dame Cathedral – Paris, France (July 2001)

64. Pacific Rim National Park – British Columbia, Canada

65. Pebble Beaches of Nice – Nice, France (July 2001. Damn that was a good trip.)

66. Petra – Jordan

67. Petronas Twin Towers – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

68. Portland Head Lighthouse – Cape Elizabeth, Maine, USA

69. Puerta Del Sol – Madrid, Spain

70. Pyramids of Giza – Egypt

71. Redwood National Park – California, USA

72. Rock of Gibraltar – Gibraltar

73. Rocky Mountain National Park – Colorado, USA 

74. Ruins of Athens – Athens, Greece

75. Ruins of Pompeii – Pompei, Italy

76. Sagrada Famila – Barcelona, Spain

77. Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) – Chicago, Illinois, USA (No clue when, but I know I’ve been there.)

78. Sedlec Ossuary – Czech Republic
 
April 2009 and January 2011
 

79. Sistine Chapel – Vatican City, Italy
 
February 2012, yeah… you aren’t supposed to take pictures. Whoops.
 

80. Smithsonian Institution – Washington, D.C., USA 
 
January 2005 (I think)

81. Space Needle – Seattle, Washington, USA

82. St. Peter’s Basilica – Vatican City, Italy
 
February 2012
 

83. Statue of Liberty – New York City, New York, USA (8th grade field trip.)

84. Stonehenge – Wiltshire County, England

85. Sydney Opera House – Sydney, Australia

86. Taj Mahal – Agra, India

87. Temple of the Golden Pavilion – Kyoto, Japan

88. Teotihuacan – Mexico

89. Tian Tan Buddha – Hong Kong, China

90. Times Square – New York City, New York, USA (Yep, field trip again. I think I need to go back.)

91. Varanasi – Uttar Pradesh, India

92. Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe

93. Wailing Wall – Jerusalem, Israel

94. Walt Disney World Resort – Orlando, Florida (Three times? Four times? My grandparents liked taking us there.)

95. Washington Monument – Washington, D.C., USA (January 2005?)

96. White Cliffs of Dover – Dover, England

97. White House – Washington, D.C., USA (January 2005?)

98. Winchester Cathedral – Hampshire, England

99. Yosemite National Park – California, USA

100. Zion National Park – Utah, USA
 
I guess I come in at 22, which is pretty damn good. I do feel like I’m slacking some days, but then I have to consider that many of the awesome places that I’ve been are not on this list. (Hello, the MUSTARD MUSEUM? How did that get left off?) But if I want to check off the next thing on the list… oh boy. I’m not anticipating any visits to Asia this year so I’m going to go with the following…
 
1. Edinburgh. I’ve been dying to go to Scotland forever, so this needs to happen.
2. Any of the stuff in Spain. I haven’t been to Spain proper (only Mallorca... German Spain), so that’s a possibility.
3. Any of the National Parks in the States. I’d like to do a road trip across the U.S. on one of my next trips home, so I’m sure I can hit at least one or two if I do that. 
 
And now for a slight gripe: really, 4 things in NYC? I know that it’s the center of the universe *coughthemiddleofthecountrycountstoocough* but c’mon. Isn’t the city on it’s own enough? Sorry, I have Midwest envy. Whenever someone is from an obscure middle-of-nowhere kind of place, they always make it Wisconsin. We have stuff too! Like this…
 
Via Roadside Wonders
I used to drive past that puppy every time I drove home from university. It’s amazing.
 
Any suggestions for what to hit next?? Because….
 
Via

Yes, I’m a dork. But I’ll take an opportunity for a Gandalf quote anyday.

  
*I need goals. Otherwise I’ll just lay on the couch and continue my recovery coma for the next six months. 

Down and out in the Karstadt changing room.

*Disclaimer: If you are male, you probably want to skip this one. Just a hunch.*

**Really, gents, skip this one.** 

Way back in April, I posted this thing about why I don’t exercise. And it was totally true. But what I didn’t tell you was that I didn’t throw in the towel. Okay, I did for a few weeks. But then I got back on it. This was for a few reasons:

  1. My August vacation, which would involve 10 solid days of beach time. And oh God, the horror of a swimsuit.
  2. I have to stand up in a wedding next year, and would prefer to not look like a sausage in a bridesmaid dress.
  3. I was considering the House Hunters thing, and rumor has it that the camera adds 10 lbs. 
  4. Some of the pictures from my trip to Berlin disturbed me.
  5. I live at street level.

What the hell does that mean? Well, this is what it means. I walk everywhere. And, I walk past a lot of glass/other reflective surfaces. And in the last few months, when I’d be walking past said windows, I had noticed my stomach reaching places before the rest of me did. 

Now I was really disturbed. Never has anyone said to me, “Gee Heather, you have a reasonably-sized chest.” Sooooo if my stomach was getting places BEFORE my boobs, we had a problem. Something had to be done. I try not to be super-girly about a lot of things, but I really wish I were one of those rare chicks who didn’t give a shit about how they look. Sadly, like most American girls, I’ve got completely unreasonable expectations, and therefore am not happy with a fair amount of how I look. So what to do?

From early May to now, I’ve been trying to work out. ‘Trying’ being the operative word. I did pretty well from mid-May to early July. The first month was shit; I’ll be honest. Pretty much no weight was lost, but I could see a difference. Thank goodness for that, otherwise I would have said “fuck it” for sure. But I could see a change, so I kept going. I’m sticking to my “no working out in public,” but I did my little videos right here in my living room, and added in some ab exercises that I snagged off of Pinterest. 

Mid-July to now has been a bit rough as well… I’ve just been so tired that working out has been miserable. But since I got the iPhone, I’ve been using the MyFitnessPal app, which has really been great. I’ve been sticking to my calorie limit for the most part… usually one day a week is a disaster, but the rest of the week is okay. The combination of the calorie counting + exercise really did the trick though. (I hate myself a little for writing that. Just so you all know.)

As of now, I’m down about 6kg, which is 13lbs. for the Americans in the room. So that’s positive. Buuuut according the the Accursed BMI Calculators of the World, it’s still too much. I’m happy about progress though, don’t get me wrong. In fact, I felt great the last few weeks, as I bought some shorts for vacation, and a great pencil skirt, all in single-digit sizes. Boom. 

Which brings us to today. Or, as I like to call it…

“Every Girl’s Personal Hell: Swimsuit Shopping”
The spoils.
I went into Karstadt feeling pretty good. I’d been getting into smaller sizes! I’m down pounds and inches! Awesome! 
Honestly, I needed to feel that way. The last time I had to wear a swimsuit was two years ago -or- when I went to Mallorca with ex-Freund (better known as Voldemort). At that point in time, I was in the newly-attached-everything-is-lovely phase, where your self-esteem goes through the roof. I didn’t give a flying fuck what I looked like, if Voldemort liked it, I was happy. 
And then you break up. And you feel like shit. And the next time you even think about a swimsuit, you want to throw yourself off the balcony. Side note: if any ladies out there have found a way to prevent this whole ‘self-worth-tied-at-least-partially-to-a-guy’s-approval’ thing, please fill the rest of us in. I know I’m not the only one. 
So I did the boot camp. I did the Pilates. Sit-ups, too. I was feeling good.
It’s this afternoon, and I’m in the ladies department of Karstadt. Being that it’s the end of the season, stuff was on sale. This is also good. I dug through the racks and pulled out an assortment of suits in the size I’ve been buying the last few weeks.
I get into the changing room. Not. Even. Close. 
Because I’m a masochist, I made an attempt to try them all. 
Not.
Even. 
Close.
I head back out onto the floor, and scrounge around for larger sizes. I load back up and head into the changing room again. On my previous trip, there was almost no one else in there; this time every room is full and there are some gray-haired German gents occupying the chairs outside. Sales assistants are running back and forth scrounging up sizes and advising on whether or not there is back fat hanging out over straps. Or at least, that’s what I think they’re saying.
This trip is slightly more successful, in that the sizes are closer. But the bottoms don’t go with the tops, or one is smaller than the other or…. aaaaaaaaaaaand there’s a woman talking to me. I don’t know what she’s saying and before I can formulate a “I’m okay” auf Deutsch, she’s sticking her head around the curtain! Fun! Nope, I’m good ma’am, please go now, danke! 
Yeesh.
I collected myself and thought I could live with at least one of the suits I found, but the bottom was fraying a bit already, and that alarmed me. So I headed upstairs to the sportswear department. 
I had a bit more success there. At least I found a few things that I thought would work, plus were on sale, so that’s good news again. Hopefully I’ll make it through the two weeks of vacation at least. 
I met up with my friend Joanna afterwards, and she made me feel a lot better. I had accompanied her on her pre-Tenerife swimsuit shopping trip a few weeks ago, and she had the same problems that I had today. You wear one size normally, all of a sudden you are 1-3 sizes larger than normal and you think that you expanded or something. Swimsuit makers are evil.
From my previous Euro-beach experiences in the south of France and Mallorca, I think I’ll feel much better when I’m there. Let’s put it this way: I would probably not consider wearing a two-piece in the U.S. I’d feel way too self-conscious there. Here, pretty much every one-piece is for the grandmas of Euro-land, so a two-piece is your only choice. And on the beach, you really see a little bit (or a LOT of bit), of everything. I really didn’t feel strange at all. Hard to feel uncomfortable when there are grandmas sitting down by the shore wearing their white granny panties and undershirts, which have become completely see-through. Thanks grannies!

Mallorca, 2010

I have to say though, my personal favorite in Mallorca was Speedo Rotisserie Man. Sadly I didn’t get a picture of him, but there was a…. slightly larger gentleman in a red Speedo who fell asleep for a while right in front of me. When he woke up, he found that he had quite the sunburn going (which conveniently matched his Speedo), except for two half-circles riiiiight under his man-boobs. So the solution to this? He stood, hands on hips, and slowly turned himself in circles. For at least an hour. Too funny. 

I’m not saying that going to the beach in Europe will give you an ego-boost, but in my opinion you feel much less judged. Or at least you might not understand if people are talking about you. Which has its advantages. 


Or if that’s not for you, head to the shoe store. Because shoes, God love ’em, always fit. 
New sandals for vacay. Just a little shine. 🙂

Some Exciting News!

A few months ago I was asked to write an article for a new on-line magazine that was in the works. The magazine focuses on international travel, as well as what it’s like to come home from an extended trip abroad. I thought this was a pretty interesting idea, and was more than flattered to be asked to contribute! After a few months of waiting, today is the day that it finally launches, so check it out!

Native Foreigner Magazine 

I’ve got to admit… being sort of “published” feels pretty cool. Besides my article (page 38!), you’ll find other travel articles, photos, recipes and all sorts of fun stuff. 

At the moment, you can see the whole first issue for free. I’m not sure if that’s a temporary thing, or if this issue is just free, but there is a nominal subscription for future issues. Additionally, there is a travel forum on their web site so if you’re looking to connect with other travelers, that’s a great feature. Happy reading!

Budgeting with Heather: 4 Easy Steps to Financial Failure

So you want to make a budget. As an expert in the area of list-making, here is an extremely helpful guide to follow:

Step 1: Plan your earnings for the next year. You love hypothetical math and have a grand old time with this step. Be unrealistically optimistic about these numbers, e.g., 

  • Imagine only the best-case scenarios (“My classes are unendingly devoted to the study of English and will never cancel!”)  

-or-

  • Grossly underestimate hourly variations (“My classes are unendingly devoted to the study of English, but one or two might cancel every three to six months!” Never mind the fact that all of Bavaria tends to go on holiday for about a month in summer. Plus ski holidays in winter. Disregard these facts completely.)

 Step 2: Anticipate expenses. But conveniently forget to factor in extras, e.g., 

  • Tax payments (If you work freelance like me you can hope that the German government somehow misses you and you can continue to pretend that this won’t happen eventually. Breathe a sigh of relief every time your mailbox is empty.)
  • Health insurance (“Is it time to renew that already? It can’t be!”)
  • Unexpected home repairs (ex: breaking your own door)
  • That wedding you will be in (“It’s in a year and a half, I don’t have to worry about a bridesmaid dress, shower gift, wedding gift, bachelorette night, flight home for the wedding, Godknowswhatelse yet!”)
  • Forget that just because it isn’t a regular expense doesn’t mean it won’t break the bank. Odds are, that’s exactly what it will do.

Step 3: Have a completely delusional and (again), unrealistically optimistic monthly budget plan for those expenses that you did acknowledge in the step above. This will include things like groceries, personal care products, public transportation costs and so on. The plan will look great, but conveniently forget that you have little-to-no self control in certain places, e.g.,

  • Grocery stores (As you almost always shop hungry and you have a fairly severe sweet tooth.)
  • Bars/Restaurants
  • Anywhere selling jewellery (And not even the nice kind… I’m talking the cheap stuff.)
  • Other retailers (i.e., all of them.)
  • Plan to live on almost nothing. Resign yourself to subsisting on soup and Wasa crackers. But then go down in flames at the store when you see the wine and colorful bags of Haribo candies.
  • Go into Müller to buy conditioner. Maybe you’ve been having a rough couple of days, and have gotten it into your head that buying nail polish in a tropical color will perk you up. Pick out a cheery Caribbean blue/green color. An orange bottle reminds you of a Hugo Boss ad you saw earlier with the very sexy Orlando Bloom on it. You should probably check that out. Find the women’s version of the perfume and kind of like it. Sniff again… really like it. Sure, you’ll take this, too. It’s only 30€ and you haven’t bought perfume in ages. Justify away. Now it’s upstairs for something sweet. Haribo is basically your Kryptonite and you’re powerless against it. Of course you have to go past the jewellery to get there… and really, what’s another pair of 4€ earrings in the grand scheme of things? 
  • Go home. Sit on the couch. You can’t seem to stop smelling your wrists. You know that smell. But from where? An hour later you sniff again and it comes to you… that guy. You’re wearing the chick version of a cologne that a guy you slept with wore. Feel kind of awkward about this, but you like the smell so hope that eventually your brain will associate it with something else. Only half-wish you could have those 30€ back. 
  • Regret purchases but not enough to actually return stuff. 

Step 4: Repeat this pattern for the next few months. Sit on the couch and look at pictures from your friend’s trips. Eat a bag of Haribo and feel better for about 10 minutes. Then feel nauseous. 


Fin.

I’ve got some serious hypothetical plans for this year. One friend wants to go to Rome for a weekend, another wants to go to London, and another might be visiting Greece  and wants me to come down. I haven’t been to any of those places so of course I’d like to see all of them. But the big thing I’d like to do will be a little more difficult. Another friend is planning a long trip in Asia this fall, and I’d really like to go meet up with her for a few weeks, hopefully in India. 

I know that you can travel around South-East Asia for less money than Clinton Kelly spends on one of his pocket squares, but that knowledge doesn’t make me any better at saving. I’m sure the flight would be the worst part of the trip, and we would be able to travel on the cheap from there. But if I’m going to take off from work for a whole month, I’d have to save up a pretty good chunk of cash before that can happen. And if I did manage that, I would really, really, think about/want to buy a new camera for the trip. 

So I guess the point of all of this is that I need a more effective way to budget. I love hypothetical math, and you can often find me adding up pretend money on little scraps of paper when I’m waiting for my students or otherwise killing time. It’s super-fun to plan how my bank account will grow, but it’s also super-unrealistic. I think it’s time to start studying some real-world math. Suggestions welcome.

Productive Pants Weekend Wrap-Up:

I didn’t leave the flat today (Sunday). I thought about it a few times. It was beautiful this morning, but I made a deal with myself. I said, “Heather, if you can finish off the lesson plans you’ve been working on, you can go out and enjoy the day.”

But you already know how that ends. Didn’t quite finish them, and then it poured for a while anyway so I figured the nice weather ship had sailed. But the point of this was that I had a few goals for this weekend and they were mostly accomplished…

I got back on the Quicken train… so I definitely lost about 2.5 months of record-keeping, but now I will pay attention to where my money is going. It’s a lot easier for me to save/watch my spending if one of their wonderful pie charts tells me how much I’m spending on stupid crap. Visual learning, wee!

I also got through aaaaaaaalmost all my lesson plans. Considering I was 5 weeks behind, I think that’s pretty good. I had about 45 to do, and I have 4 left. Not bad. And to clarify, I did teach these lessons (and was awesome at it), but I didn’t fill out the appropriate form that the school wants. Details. 

Got my suitcase back. It is never just about the suitcase.

Hit the farmers market yesterday and stocked up on some delish fruit, some more of the yummy Greek spread, and even sprang for some fresh flowers. Farmers markets are marvelous. 

Cleaned the flat. Somehow already have a stack of dishes in the sink. Don’t know how that happens. But my hot water situation in the kitchen means that I have to do dishes strategically. That might have to be another post (with pictures), because it’s weird, and very Deutsch, and hard to explain.  

I finished the issue of Vanity Fair I got from the library. If you love me, you will get me a subscription. It’s my birthday soon. Just sayin’. 

Replied to six people who want to SprachDuo with me. Awesome. Hopefully soon I’ll have a vocabulary that exceeds things like “Kantinenfrau”. Even though that is a great word. 


I also realized that I have some pretty bitchin’ friends. They may not be in the same zip code (or country, or continent), but it’s ok. I know they exist, they’ll listen when I’m spazzing, they are fantastic, supportive, hilarious, and that’s the most important thing. 

I thought I had a better one, but this fits pretty well. Image via Postsecret

Saturday ramblings.

 A few weeks ago I wrote up some resolutions, one of which was to keep my plants alive. As you can see, my Dahlia is doing fantastically. It’s got about ten flowers on it in full bloom right now and it makes me super happy. My geranium  has zero flowers, but today I noticed a new bunch of buds, so I think it just needed some adjustment time and is coming back. My cherry tomato has been getting too much water (yay German summer), and a lot of the leaves have gone yellow or gotten sort of  moldy, so I’ve moved it inside with the basil. This week it came out with a whole bunch of new flowers though, so I think it’s recovering. When we had tomatoes at home, they always died because of lack of water, so I’ve got the opposite situation going here. The basil is still droopy, but it’s got plenty of leaves on it. 

My life is super exciting, no?
Also, there has been some concern about my eating or lack thereof. To that I say, staying in bed as long as possible and not eating breakfast before going to classes that start at 12:30 is a personal choice. I eat dinner. And I’m only mildly embarrassed when my stomach makes completely insane noises during class. Ok, maybe I need to work on that. But, here’s my proof that I do occasionally eat. My favorite mozzarella/tomato/basil/stuff salad, and some stuffed red peppers from the way-too-expensive Mediterranean food carts in the AltStadt. Watch out for those ladies. They trick you with delicious samples and next thing you know you’ve spent 24 euros.

As for the other resolutions, I’m doing alright with the reading and writing. I also found the  English library (so to speak), which is at the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institut Nuremberg
(Note: the mystery italics are back. This is what I get for trying to copy and paste things. Ending digression now.) So, the library. It’s a pretty good deal; ten Euros for a library card for a year. They have a wide variety of books, magazines, and some other media. Which is great because I know at least one of my classes has requested activities with newspaper articles in class. And luckily I got my card on Friday, which is the last day they were open for a month. So I get my books for two months, and my magazine for six weeks. Woo! I got a couple of novels, and the May issue of Vanity Fair. But I’ve spent all afternoon in the sun on the balcony and already polished off “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris. Maybe I should have gotten six books instead of four. Whoops. Hopefully the collection of four Steinbeck novels will take me more than an afternoon. 
What else. Last night I went to the couchsurfing beer garden meet-up here. It’s the big Franconian weekend event for them, but I figured going to one event was enough. I got my friend I met here to come with me, and thank goodness for that. I talked to a few people, but mostly only with her, and my ‘group situations’ social skills have definitely not improved at all. You would think after 2+ years living abroad I would have gotten better, but no dice. I am 95% sure that I will never be one of those people who can sit down at a table and introduce myself to a bunch of strangers. In one-on-one situations, I’m ok, but if there are more than 4 or 5 people, I’m just a disaster. So some of the people there did seem pretty nice, but it was kind of a wash. So for now, we’ll stick to beers and books a la balcony.  
Speaking of beers, I think tomorrow the afore-mentioned friend and I are going to venture to Fränkische Schweiz to try this hiking/beer tour.  Because what goes together better than physical activity and beer?*

*Inappropriate answers are acceptable.

Nürnberg Resolutions

Today is my 3-weekiversary in my new flat. I finished unpacking pretty quickly, but this weekend I finally got around to the complete cleaning and organization part. The papers all over the floor were making me slightly crazy, so I picked up some binders and sorted out all my school papers. I need some dividers, but other than that, I think I’m finally in pretty good shape. 

So I decided that in the spirit of cleaning and organizing, I should start a Nürnberg Resolutions list. These are things I would like to do while living here, since I don’t have quite as many distractions as I had v Praze…. (or so it seems). 
  • Keep my flat as clean as it is right now. Despite the pink tile in the bathroom, I love this place. It is the perfect size for one person, it’s delightfully colorful and I’ve tried to make it home. The goal is to keep it that way.
  • Get back to doing pilates or yoga on some sort of a regular basis. I may have to invest in a cheap, region-free DVD player for this one, but I think it would be worth it.
  • Read more. I heard a rumor that there’s a library here with English books. I need to look into it further, but I’m a little tired of reading my same 20 books over and over. 
  • Save some money… really this time.
  • Write more. Especially since I don’t have people here to talk to constantly, I’m going to need an outlet somewhere. I’ve got a few things I’ve been working on, which I’m sure will make their way onto here eventually.
  • In that spirit, be honest. Always. I’ve been doing pretty well with that, and it’s only bitten me in the ass a few times…
  • Work on more photo projects. Pending having a working camera. Agh.
  • Keep my plants alive. My basil is looking pretty droopy, but I think it’s been too cold for it. 
  • Plan some further trips. Right now I have Munich in September with visiting friends, and home for Christmas, but I would like to look into a workaway plan for next summer. I’m not sure if I want to go work on an organic farm, but there were lots of really interesting sounding options…. working at a B&B on a Greek island for a week springs to mind…. 
  • Suggestions??

 Things to think about. But all I’ve got is time.