Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Blogging Anniversary #3

Wow, where does the time go?  Did you know this is my 3rd year of blogging?  I almost forgot!  Turns out, back in October my blog turned 3!

Just like life, blogging has an interesting way of taking different paths over time.  Especially a random blog like mine.  At times I am more focused on activities around the city where I live, other times health & fitness, and even a book review here or there.  Lately I have very little time to consistently post, unlike last year.  And I seem to often be blogging about being a parent, something I tried to veer away from in the past.
 
But with this new blogging year, changes are coming.  There's a lot going on in our personal lives.  Things I would like to post but have to wait for the right timing.  So until I can share these ideas & plans, you're just going to have to take the blog for what it is and has been.  And to help you do that, here are a few of my favorite posts from the past year:


Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pre-Cooking

Today I decided to pre-cook dinner.  I must admit it was strange standing there alone cooking a casserole just after lunch.  I'm used to scrambling to whip up a meal somewhere between my daughters bath time & bedtime.

I've considered pre-cookinng for a while now.  See, two days a week my kid has sports after school which gets us home just shy of dinner.  I often end up making the easier things in the fridge, which usually has little taste or variation of color.  Doesn't sound too appetizing, huh?
 
I tried pre-cooking one other time this school year and something happened with the milk in the lasagna mix and I didn't dare feed it to the family.  Then I had the pleasure of walking around all day smelling like lasagna and yet had nothing to show for it.  Much more, it was a complete waste of food.
 
This morning on the way to drop my daughter at school I decided I was going treat the family to something different.  Even though I know they'll both complain and I'll end up eating the same meal for the next two meals.  See, I cook to survive not because I enjoy it.  I'm not a talented or creative cook so I tend to stick to what I know or buy a box mix with the instructions and spices included.

Standing at the grocery store this morning I scanned the box mixes and a couple stood out, but I was in the mood for a casserole and had the time to cook so I settled for something new in the assortment.  Chicken Mozzarella  & Tomato Macaroni Casserole... sounds good, looks good,  and possibly my families worst nightmare, ha-ha!  But we agreed when she turned 5 she needed to expand her diet (and this includes us also).
 
The casserole is finished and waiting for us to return home.  All I have to do is heat it up in the oven during bath time and voila we have a yummy dinner!  Getting hungry thinking about it... which wasn't the case while cooking.  I found little pleasure randomly cooking in the middle of the day but I know the results are worth it!

-Turned out that my husband refused to eat it, my daughter panicked when I said it would be her dinner tomorrow, & me, well, I had two huge servings and thoroughly enjoyed it!-

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pumpkin Contest

I know I'm running late with this post, I'm just happy to finally find the time to write one!!!

 
One of the first memories I have of my relationship with my husband was carving pumpkins together in his parents back yard.  And since that time (many years ago), we have decided to share this fun time together with our daughter.  Her school was having a pumpkin carving contest and we happened to have a free weekend afternoon so we headed out to the farms and bought a few decent sized pumpkins.  In years passed we didn't take it so serious, but this year we wanted her to have something worth entering.  So of course my husband and 5 yr old picked out the biggest pumpkin they could find.  But see, we forgot just how hard it is to carve a thick pumpkin without the proper tools.  (Hey... Halloween only comes around once a year, it's easy to forget.)

 
We started with the medium sized pumpkin to practice.  And like I said, this year we weren't joking around so we even printed out templates to help with the design.  But after the hard work & time my husband put in just to get this pumpkin carved we realized the large pumpkin was going to be quite a challenge.  (The medium pumpkin turned out well, and looked quite scary at night!  But due to the strangely warm weather it rotted fast.)

 
 
Due to the amount of work, we decided we weren't going to carve the other small & medium pumpkin, we were running out of time & patience.  So instead of tracing around a template to cut, I just drew the template onto the pumpkins and let my daughter color them in.  (By the time she was finished coloring you couldn't see the template anymore, but she had fun.)

 
 
Now it was time to carve the large pumpkin, the one we actually wanted to enter in the school contest.  But we were tired, it was almost dinner, and none of the templates I could find seemed simple yet prize worthy.  Then my husband came up with the great idea to carve the school initials into the pumpkin, brilliant!  (It was the only one like it in the contest, we were quite proud!)


Did we win the contest?  Unfortunately no... but hey, the pumpkin hamburger deserved it.  Did we have fun?  Yes!  Did my husband come up with an idea for next year?  Yes, but that's our secret!

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Kids Library Books

Now that my daughter visits the school library with her class I have little say in what she brings home, all I can hope for is that she is happy with her choice.  Sometimes I wonder how she ends up with the books she brings home... was it purely based on the cover picture... did the mom helping out that day ask her about her interests... are they only allowed to choose from a limited selection?  (Keep in mind she is 5yrs old.)

She's allowed to bring home 3 books every week, and with enthusiasm we read one per night, then revert back to our home collection for the other 4 night time stories a week.  Unfortunately, often, the books don't send the message I hoped.  I'm not looking for profound child philosophy, but more so a nice simple way to explain life to my child.  I noticed this last year at her Dutch school, and thought maybe the problem was my Dutch language skills, that I was picking the wrong books.  But I'm seeing the same problem at her new English speaking school.

 
Let me give you an example.  (I only chose these because she recently checked them out.)
The Trouble with Dogs - the book starts out great, the family has a naughty dog and they want to do something about it.  They hire someone to come in and teach the dog standard commands, and he is fairly successful.  The family then thinks these rules have sucked the fun out of the dog and decide to quit with the lessons.  Now what exactly is this teaching my child?  To give up?  That animals don't need to be trained?  That's not how things work in our house.
 
Eat Your Peas - ah, finally book to help my daughter realize how important it is to eat her vegetables.  Oh, not quite.  After multiple tantrums and endless unneeded promises/rewards from the parent the child turns the table and suggests that the mom eats her brussels sprouts.  How did it end?  Neither one ate their vegetables!  What is this teaching my child?  Bribes are an option?  Back talk is o.k.?  That if you flip out long enough mom will give up?

I'm not putting down the authors, I find writing children's book to be quite difficult.  It has to be simple, light hearted, and yet still send a good message, and hopefully a laugh along the way.  I'm more so just wondering why they ended the way they did.  I feel in life, if you don't like it, don't subject yourself to it.  (This goes way beyond books.)  But see, like I said, I don't have a choice in the books she happily brings home.  At least they opened up a good conversation, about how things work different in every home, and how things work in our home.

It wasn't just these books.... last year I remember checking out a book to help her get through nightmares.  What happens?  The tough kid gets scared, the book is full of scary drawings, and inevitably just upset her more.  There was also the book about feeling left out and making friends, in the end it offered no real solution a child could relate to.  I checked out a book about bullying, and again there was no real message by the end of the book.  It makes me wish I could write my own children's books, but like I mentioned, it's harder than you think.

Maybe I'm wishing she brought home fables... maybe I should pre-screen the books better... or maybe authors should think about the end result.  Again, I'm not bashing anyone, just raising awareness.  Any of you run into these issues?

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica

Monday, October 13, 2014

Polyvore - Outfits #2

Last time I mentioned Polyvore I focused on one particular member and the great outfit combos she pumps out, but this time I just want to focus on Fall.  And outfits that I can actually recreate thanks to similar items in my closet... and a couple pieces that I would like to see in my closet.

The 1st Fall outfit is centered around the wrap/poncho.  I absolutely love the grey poncho!!!  I have one at home with a mix of pinks, blues, & beiges but a solid color seems to be easier to dress up and down. I also like how she has mixed the grey and brown, never thought of doing this.  If you want to see more of her ideas you can find her via this link.
 

The 2nd Fall outfit is simple, and can be worn everywhere.  It looks so easy, just wrap up in a warm cardigan, slip on some ballerina flats, toss on a scarf to tie it all together and you're gone.  I could see myself wearing this many places.  And what's even better, it can all be found at H&M.  More of her outfit combos can be found here.

 
The 3rd Fall outfit I like only for the awesome print and color combos of the cardigan.  The boots aren't my style, I prefer ankle boots.  But the cardigan, wow!  I might actually have to find something similar and add it to my closet.  A friend of mine has one in wool, which isn't my favorite fabric but there is hope of finding one here in The Netherlands.  For more of her outfit combos look here.


The 4th Fall outfit isn't from Polyvore but it still caught my eye.  (Found all of these outfits through Pinterest, btw.)  This outfit is nearly straight out of my closet, and I was happy to see this combo.  Makes me think I am occasionally on the right track!  But I must admit, I'm not into backpack purses, even though it looks convenient.  For more follow this link.
 

Now with these outfits in mind, I'm ready for the cooler weather and an excuse to wrap up in cozy thick cardigans!  Do you have any outfits you're excited to get back in to this Fall?

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Liebster Award

After 3 years of blogging I have finally been nominated for The Liebster Award, thanks Sara over at Nine and Ninety Nine!

Now that I have been nominated, what does it even mean, ha-ha?  I have seen it on many other blogs but I never read the details.  It means somebody out there recognizes I have a semi-decent blog and some how still have less than 200 followers.  (This is most likely because my blog is random in every way... no set topics, no set schedule, I can't even promise to post weekly - but I do write these posts hoping to help others, I get points for that, right?)

So, here are the rules :
1)  Link the person's blog to your blog entry that nominated you
2)  Answer the 11 questions below
3)  Find 11 blogs with less than 200 followers and nominate them
4)  Come up with 11 questions for these bloggers

These are the questions Sara came up with :

1)  What things can you not live without?
          Besides the obvious, my family, food & shelter, I'd say - an internet connection :)
2)  If you could go anywhere, where would you go?

          If it doesn't have to be real then, Pandora.
3)  What is your favorite book and season?

          Book - a baby name book, I love names & meanings, weird right?  Season - spring, it's when everything comes to life.
4)  What are three goals you want to achieve in your life time?

         Shed the baby weight from 5 yrs ago & keep it off, ha-ha!  Visit at least 3 countries in Asia.  And touch as many lives as I can even if it's just a smile.
5)  What is your favorite food?

         Most anything Indian (hope that's PC, have been overseas for a while)!
6)  What do you miss most about home?

          Besides my family & close friends of course, the cheap shopping.
7)  What surprises you most about living abroad?

          That being a "foreigner" has so many classifications & levels.
8)  How do you balance conflicting areas in your life?

          Ha, is that possible, I just keep juggling I guess.
9)  What's in your bag/ backpack/ purse?

          Everything, my purse is the size of a "carry-on".
10)  What are you most proud of?

          My daughter & my husband, they amaze me.
11)  What things do you love and hate about being an expat?

          Love - experiencing other cultures.  Hate - getting stared at so often.

Here are the blogs I am nominating, some I follow and some I found, it's always nice to find new blogs no matter the reason.

1)  Adventures in Juggling
2)  American Mom in Bordeaux
3)  Bees, Birds, Berries, & Blooms
4)  Beyond My Picket Fence
5)  Everything Susan
6)  Expat Life with a Double Buggy
7)  Hip Healthy Chick
8)  Nearly Irish
9)  Running with Swans
10)  Super Chic Mom
11)  The Blog of the Fictionaut

And since I am completely pressed for time these days (in a good way ,thanks to volunteering at school).  I'm going to borrow questions that turned up after a Google search.  (Thanks, Psychology Today!)

1)  Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
2)  Would you like to be famous? In what way?
3)  Before making a phone call, do you ever rehearse what you're going to say? Why?
4)  When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
5)  If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
6)  If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
7)  Is there something that you've dreamt of doing for a long time? Why haven't you done it?
8)  What does friendship mean to you?
9)  When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
10)  Would you be willing to have horrible nightmares for a year if you would be rewarded with extraordinary wealth?
11)  Complete this sentence "I wish I had someone with whom I could share..."

Good luck to those I nominated, hope you decide to pass on the award and help bloggers keep getting to know each other and helping their small portion of the blogging world grow.  Thanks again Sara!

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Still jogging!

It's hard to believe, but I have kept up with jogging!!!  Rounding off my 4th month of jogging I feel I might be getting the hang of it, because the first few months sure didn't go as planned.  One thing was for sure, I knew I wanted to do it and I was going to figure it out no matter what I had to go through.  It seems so silly, it should just come naturally but it didn't for me.

In the beginning (ok, couple of months) I experienced extreme leg pains, to the point it was even affecting me when not jogging.  I read every article I could find and they all seemed to provide different information.  But after a while I saw the same pattern, shoes, terrain, and stance.  Well, shoes (Asics Trail Tambora 3) were taken care of for my birthday, and as far as terrain, I do my best to jog in woods, asphalt, or stone paths versus the sidewalk.  But this wasn't enough.

I turned to my stepdad who is an avid jogger and he said I needed to think about compression, wrapping my legs to help with the pain.  Well, I unfortunately don't have time to wrap my legs, see, I squeeze jogging into my schedule twice a week and it can't take up anymore time than it already does.  Then I remembered when researching shin splints and tibia pains, they kept mentioning compression socks or sleeves.  They're expensive but luckily I received an Amazon gift certificate for my birthday and I knew just what to buy.  Being that I order from the UK and have it shipped to The Netherlands you can't always get the exact item you want, so I ended up with men's compression socks - but hey they still do the job.  I love them, from the moment I put them on I knew they were going to help.  Too bad it takes 5 minutes to get them on, they are soooo tight, probably could have gone with the next size up.  Besides the socks I ordered support soles for my shoes but after a couple uses took them out and never thought about them again.  (BTW, I use 2XU Men's Compression Performance Run Socks.)

 
Now that the socks were helping I felt I could start making progress.  Yet still I was experiencing pain while jogging, and I knew this just wasn't how it was supposed to be.  But who is supposed to teach someone that doesn't want to spend the money for a trainer, I'm a beginner and didn't want to invest anymore money than I already had.  I went back to the articles I had read about stance and thought I should just try something different, even if it was for one session.  For some reason it was pounded into my head to jog heel to toe, maybe that's because it's how we walk.  So when these articles said to land on the middle of my foot or even my toe, I thought they were crazy.  But I tried it.  Instant relief, wow!!!  After this point I had already been jogging with injuries, so it took a while for the pain to go away and the muscles to properly start building.  I used to ask everyone, why do I only feel it in my calves and lower legs when I jog, and no one could answer me.  Now that I land midfoot instead of on my heel, I can feel my thighs and abs working, yes!

It's been a couple weeks since I adjusted my stance and I finally feel I am making progress.  The only other thing I had to work on was my playlist.  I had been using a couch to 5K program but since I don't have the time to jog 3 times a week it wasn't working, plus the music sucked and didn't motivate me at all.  I decided I needed my own music but since I still walk & jog in intervals I couldn't just let the music play on, I wanted it to change per activity like the program I had used.  So I searched out an MP3 cutter, and now adjust the songs to the amount of time I want to jog or walk.  It's simple, fast peppy songs mean jog, and slow songs mean walk, I even added a warm up & cool down.  It's been really motivating.  And as I improve I adjust the length of the songs, I trim off walking time and build up jogging time.  I hope to one day be able to jog for at least 20 minutes straight (have to set small goals and be realistic).

Needless to say, I enjoy jogging and pushing myself.  Telling my body to just hold out and keep running because the song will eventually end, ha-ha!  (I'm only up to 3 minutes at a time.)  And besides everything I mentioned above, I still tote my dog along for company and use Endomondo to track my results.

Any of you have any jogging tricks to share?

Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wishful Thinking

About a thousand times in my blog I've mentioned that our apartment in the center of (downtown) Eindhoven has been for sale for roughly 3 yrs.  I try my best not to get my hopes up (see we want to move, we don't have to move - which affects the asking price) but occasionally I let my mind wander.  What kind of house would I want if it was even a possibility?  Using Funda (a housing website) I look around at our options and try to decide what suites us best.  I generally lean toward the older homes from the '30s, they seem to have a lot of character on the outside.  But knowing myself I would want to gut the inside and make it completely modern.  Once in a while I look at the newer houses, but the "modern" way of building here in The Netherlands seems to lack charm.  Being that we've lived in the busy part of town for around 9 yrs, it makes us start to think a quiet neighborhood isn't for us, which means a townhouse in the city.  What happened when that crossed my mind, the worst... I started daydreaming about how I would decorate it!  Ahh, that's sooo not like me.  But what did I end up with... love these terms... rustic industrial chic.  Curious as to what that looks like, thanks to Pinterest I already have lots of great ideas.  I must admit it's awfully neutral for someone who loves bright colors, but I figure I could add pops of color here and there.  Now just to get a house, and the money to afford such unique quality furnishings & finishing's!

 
 
 


Bye! Dag! Adios! Namaste!
:) Danica