Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

I wanted to do a blog post to wrap up 2011, but it was overwhelming to me, both good and bad, and I just could not put it into words.

The Good:
I married my best friend

The Bad:
I had heart surgery
 Don't I look so great post-op? At least I had good friends to keep me company!

The Tasty:
We found a new favorite sushi place
Here's wishing you and your loved ones a fun and happy New Year's Eve and all of the best in 2012.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On Airline Travel

I will probably fly Space A (on a military aircraft) home this summer, but will need to get a commercial one-way ticket home for the way back. This morning, while I was waiting for my friend to pick me up, I decided to play around on the Delta website. I'm a Silver Medallion and get an extra checked bag, so I do prefer to fly SkyTeam when I can.

Someone please explain to me how a one way, economy class ticket for September from NYC to Frankfurt costs $2,210.80 while a round trip costs 620.02€ (roughly $802).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas

To all of my dear readers who celebrate it, wishing you, your families, your loved ones, and your pets a Very Merry Christmas. (An extra Christmas shoutout goes out to any and all Alpha Sigma Alphas reading this.)

Somehow, Christmas just isn't as exciting when you are a Jew, but while you all have your holiday traditions, I have mine. Every year, like clockwork, no matter what else, I simply must watch Love Actually on Christmas. Otherwise, it's just not Christmas without it. This year, TLS treated me to the Blu Ray version of it, and thankfully, it arrived just in the nick of time.

Like any good Jew, my other Christmas tradition is Chinese food. Last year, I was worried that no Chinese place would be open in Germany on Christmas so I bought a PF Changs frozen meal to make at home. Not the same. This year, I happily discovered that the sushi and Chinese buffet near our house is open all day on Christmas and made reservations for three for a very Jewish Christmas.

I look forward to reading all of your posts post-Christmas and seeing what Santa/magic elves/the tooth fairy/your parents/etc. brought you.

Listen to your Uncle Billy kids: Don't buy drugs. Become a pop star and they give you them for free!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Memories Suite Giveaway

Recently, I got contacted by My Memories to do a review of their scrapbooking suite. I have to be honest here and say that scrapbooking scares me a little. I once attempted to make a scrapbook for my BFF's 21st birthday. It got so expensive so quickly that I eventually just gave up. That whole experience has left me a little vary of scrapbooking in general, but I have been wanting to make TLS an album for before he deploys, so I figured it was worth a shot.

My initial impression of this was that it was SLOW. After 30 minutes, less than 25% of the software had downloaded to my computer. I posted this on facebook and someone responded with "welcome to Germany" so I guess it's more of a Kabel Deutschland thing than a software thing. Being the least patient person on the face of the planet, I wasn't thrilled.

When I downloaded it, I got to work. To create a new album, you are given the choice of making your own from scratch, or going with one of several premade layouts. Since I don't like things that are too cluttered and scrapbooky looking (you know the things that look like the entire contents of a Michael's threw up on them?) and since I am obviously the world's most creative person ever (insert eyeroll here), I decided to make my own.

Big mistake. I cannot for the life of me make a decision so it took me a solid hour to decide fonts, pictures, background pages, etc. The finished result?
That's it- two pictures,with navy borders, a monogram, and our wedding date. Simple but I kind of like it that way. (I did mention that I'm super creative right?)

For round 2, I decided to go with a premade layout instead. So much easier. The wonderful thing about the premade layouts is that the album size is already selected for you, so that's one less thing to try to figure out. This whole process was a lot easier and better for me. Here is a sample page from take 2.
I think it looks pretty awesome if I do say so myself and I am considering using My Memories to make a wedding album for ourselves since we don't yet have one. Apparently wedding albums get to you faster if your mother actually remembers to order them. Who knew?

If you are actually creative, unlike yours truly, you will be happy to know that My Memories offers additional digital scrapbooking kits in addition to what comes with the software.

Want one for yourself?

My Memories is generously offering a Preppy Girl Meets World reader one copy of the software.

To enter:
1) Please visit the My Memories website and post which digital scrapbooking kit is your favorite for one entry. This is mandatory.
2) Follow my blog through GFC for a second entry.
3) Follow myself (@whaleflipflops) and My Memories (@mymemoriessuite) on Twitter and post the giveaway link back at both of us for a third entry.
4) Post about this giveaway for a fourth entry.

This giveaway will run through midnight EST on January 2nd, and I will pick a winner when I wake up finally after my NYE merriment.

If you would like to purchase one for yourself or as a last-minute gift for someone, you can use code STMMMS93273 to receive $10 off your purchase.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review. I received the product for free to try out. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Trains, Trains, and Automobiles (picture heave post)

Over the weekend, TLS and I finally got to make it to two Christmas markets. With his schedule this year, we were not able to go to as many as last year and wanted to get some in before the markets close on the 23rd.

TLS found a deal on the Deutsche Bahn website where you can buy a regional ticket for 20€ and up to 5 people can ride all trains/buses/trams in the region for 24 hours. On weekends, the deal is good all weekend long through 3am on Monday. (Interesting thing to note- the fare rules for the ticket say that you can have a dog with you on your ticket, but then the dog counts as one of your passengers.)

When we saw this, we decided to take full advantage and head to Heidelberg, about 1.5 hours from our house, for their Christmas markets. I purposely left my camera on our hallway table to make sure that I did not forget it. We were running late, and I forgot it. We first had lunch with a friend who was on base from England before heading to Heidelberg, so we did not get there until about 5:00pm. Because it was the last Saturday of the Advent, hours for the markets and most stores in town were extended through midnight. Heidelberg has 6 Christmas markets in town, and we walked in between all of them. It was roughly a 2 mile walk. I like to think I earned my gluhwein that day!

I will now present you with a few iPhone pictures from the day:
The first thing we did was get gluhwein to warm up. We kept the red mug.
a bratwurst vendor- the food wasn't good for the Jews but I loved the lights and the windmill
I loved seeing the the streets all decorated for Christmas and loved all of the shooting star lights that they had in the city.
This is a gluhwein vendor in the town square. The top of it is shaped to look like a wooden candle decoration that is traditional in Germany for the holidays. (Smoke from the candles makes the blades turn and spin. Very cool.)
I have got to remember to take my camera with me everywhere.
We ate dinner at a noodle place called Mosch Mosch. The interior was cute and had communal seating and kind of reminded me of Wagamama in England. I wish I could say that the food was good, I really do, but it just wasn't. It wasn't bad, but it definitely was not what we expected. Maybe after eating so many times at Wagamama in London and Republic in New York I had higher standards, but we both left sorely disappointed.

On our way back, we passed by a gummy bear shop that had a display made out of soccer-playing gummy bears which I thought was cute.

Proof that I really will take a picture of just about anything.

The next day, we took advantage of our tickets and took TLS's sweet coworker Marie to Mannheim for her first Christmas market with us. We love Mannheim and had so much fun at last year's market so we were excited to go back!

We snacked a lot from all of the different food stalls. I always have to get roasted chestnuts from the vendors and we got the most delicious creme fraiche, herb, and smoked salmon crepe. It did not live long enough to be photographed. 

One of our absolute favorite vendors at the market was a spekuloos vendor. Spekuloos are Dutch cookies that are pretty similar to Biscoff cookies. They are delicious no matter what. This vendor was amazing because he had an oven and made the cookies fresh at his stall. 

It was really fun watching him roll the dough into the shape frames and the cookies were delicious! We all bought a bag, and neither one lasted very long. At all.

Here are our purchases from the market:
a pearl ring from TLS- this was so gorgeous and a steal at only 6€!
2 ornaments
2 gluhwein mugs- we cheated because we liked the blue boot one so much that we asked to buy just the mug even though we were all gluhwein'd out
a small bottle of sour cherry liquer- they had samples of this at the stall. TLS thought it was the grossest thing in the world. Marie and I tried it and then reached for more samples. Then we wanted more. Then we just reached for our euros. Delicious. At least I don't have to worry about him drinking my alcohol!
giant lebkuchen heart- after swearing up and down that we were done eating and making any food-related purchases* we walked past a lebkuchen bakery stall that was offering samples of fresh lebkuchen. Not the packaged stuff that we normally buy at the supermarket. It was A.May.Zing. You could even taste the orange peel in it. I was just going to buy a small cookie, but TLS and Marie convinced me that it was a much better value to buy the big one. Oh darn.

To thank us for taking her to her first market, Marie bought us a chocolate train from one of the chocolate stalls. So sweet of her. :)

We ate dinner at Sushi Circle, one of our favorite chains in Germany. It is a conveyor belt sushi place. Delicious. We've eaten once at the Stuttgart location and several times at the Frankfurt one, and the Mannheim one is by far our favorite. The sushi chef gave us a free sample of a spicy shark roll to try. We were intrigued by it, but being that shark is not kosher, we made Marie take one for the team. She said it was chewy but not bad.

*at this point we may have had a bag of roasted chestnuts, 2 grande Starbucks drinks, 2 mugs of gluhwein, the aforementioned crepe, liquer samples, a bag of spekuloos cookies, half a brick oven flatbread with cheese and potato slices on top of it (delicious! by far our favorite food stall at the market). And, you know, a partidge in a pear tree.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Commissary Surprise

Every year, as a way of saying thank you to our enlisted servicemembers and helping make the holidays a little brighter for them, our spouses' association here does an event called Commissary Surprise.

We have a line item in our budget set aside for this, and during the holiday season, at random, our executive board members will go to the commissary for an hour at a time and will let the cashiers know we're there. When an enlisted member or dependent, rank E5 or below comes to pay for his or her groceries, the cashiers wave us over. We come, introduce ourselves, and let them know that as a way of thanking them for their service, we want to pay for their groceries today.

Seeing the happy, shocked, and sometimes tearful looks in peoples' faces is SO rewarding and it just brightens up your whole day. Today, TLS and I went and did this at our commissary. In less than an hour, we were able to give back over $640! It was such a wonderful feeling. I loved hearing the stories from people of how we had made their day. One airman was sick and was out getting meds and soup, etc. before going back to his dorm to sleep it off and was having a bad day. Another was out shopping with his wife and child who just turned 1 and they had a cart full of baby food and diapers. Another couple was dual military. The husband had just gotten home from deployment and their cart totaled nearly $200 because the wife was cooking a big dinner to thank their neighbors of taking care of her while her husband was gone.

This was just such a mood brightener and exactly what I needed to start off the holiday season on a positive note after having had a rough couple days. I left the commissary feeling lighter than air and with a huge smile on my face!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

An Open Letter

Dear Glee,

Having finally watched the Christmas special today, I know I am a bit late on the bandwagon, but I have to say that I was a little annoyed at the special this year.

As a Member of the Tribe, I understand that we are one of the smallest religions out there. However, the show has several Jewish characters, two of which have thrown being Jewish into every single other episode. (Does anyone else remember Puck complaining that he couldn't get a kosher meal in juvie?) I was surprised last year when there was not a single mention of Hannukah. I thought for sure that Puck or Rachel would have raised a stink about having to sing only Christmas music. I was also a little surprised (and not in a good way) when Rachel Berry gave Finn a Christmas list. Shouldn't it at the very least have been a Hannukah list? I know at the very end of the episode, she did say "Happy Hannukah," but at that point it didn't belong. It's like- you've spent the whole episode talking about Christmas, why bring up Hannukah now with 5 seconds left in it?

Someone please tell me I'm not alone in feeling this way.

giveaway winner

Congratulations to myfwbs. Please email me at whaleflipflops {@} gmail {.} com with your mailing address ASAP and Caryn will send out the prize to you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Not Soap, Radio Review

A little while ago, I got contacted by Not Soap, Radio to do a product review for their lip balm. I am a huge huge fan of Not Soap, Radio products, I even gave two of their products as gifts to my bridesmaids, so I was very excited about this! I am a huge lip product junkie, at any given moment in time, my purse is guaranteed to have at least 7 lip balms/glosses in it, so the fact that I was getting a new lip balm to try was a huge plus in my book.

Well, Not Soap, Radio surprised me by sending me TWO new lip balms to try out. Considering I had been having a not great time, getting their package in the mail seriously was the highlight of my day.

I was sent the Cocoa Nostra Confectionary Black and White Cookie Lip Balm

and the Happy Hannukah Greeting Card Lip Balm.

As a displaced New Yorker, I was in heaven over the Black & White Cookie Lip Balm. And as a Member of the Tribe, the Hannukah lip balm brought a huge smile to my face.

Here are the two lip balms side by side:

I don't know if you can see that, but the Hannukah one is in a plastic pot and is a bit taller. The Black & White Cookie one is in a metal tin.
Here is how they look in the pots. The Happy Hannukah one is on the left again, and the Black & White Cookie is on the right.

Happy Hannukah:
This one is chocolate gelt flavored (OMG, so good!) and tastes just like milk chocolate. It comes on very light and silky smooth. The scent is not overpowering, and over all this is a winner in my book.

Black and White Cookie:
This one has a much stronger scent than the Happy Hannukah lip balm. It is not overpowering but will definitely be too sweet for people who don't like sugary-flavored products. It also goes on smooth and shiny. If you like black and white cookies, you will love this lip balm.

To be honest, I have to say that I found the scent of the Black and White Cookie to be a bit too strong for me, and if this were a lip balm-off, the Happy Hannukah would win. I will gladly use this one every so often, but it is a bit too strong for me to become an everyday staple for me. The Happy Hannukah one is a whole other story. I love it to death, have used up more than I am proud to admit, and wish that I had one in every purse.

If you are new to Not Soap Radio, check out their website. They have a ton of awesome gift ideas for yourself or someone like you.

Yours truly is partial to the 8 Days of Luscious Lips Hannukah Set, $18
I would love to find this under my menorah- especially since that pouch would be perfect to take on flights

the Alpha Sigma Alpha Beauty palette, $5
If you are not Jewish or an Alpha Sigma Alpha, don't worry, they have plenty of products for you to fall in love with. If you check out the Not Soap, Radio facebook page, they have a 20% off coupon code posted on there now.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review. I received the product for free to try out. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Today I am Grateful For

Our insanely amazing home phone plan.

It's wonderful knowing that I can spend 45+ minutes on the phone with my BFF in NYC, 30 with a sorority sister in NC, 15 minutes with Andrew Marc customer service (without much success), and entirely too long on the phone with my mother convincing her that no I did not drink too much at last night's holiday party (also very grateful that my mother doesn't have twitter and can't see my face) and know that our phone bill won't be more than like 10€ for the month. 

Some days, this calling plan is a godsend. Today is definitely one of those days.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Scentsy give*away

It's no secret that I love Scentsy. I love all of their scents, the fun warmers, and TLS likes the fact that I can't burn down the house with it. (Leave your hair straightener on and a candle burning all day long in the same day, and suddenly, you're marked for life.)

Just in time for the holidays, my friend Caryn, who is a Scentsy consultant, has generously offered up a giveaway to Preppy Girl Meets World readers. The lucky winner will receive this adorable red and white snowflake warmer
perfect to match your holiday decor

along with two bars. The scents of those will be a fun surprise.
Each warmer is hand-made and beautifully done. I recently got the menorah warmer and cannot wait to finally use it!
1) To enter this giveaway, please visit Caryn's page and leave a comment on this post with your favorite item on here. This will get you one entry. This step is mandatory.
2) Like The City Scents on facebook and leave a comment saying that you are on her page from Preppy Girl Meets World. This will earn you a second entry.
3) Follow my blog publicly through GFC for a third entry.
4) Put my button on your blog for a fourth entry.
5) Blog about this giveaway for a fifth entry.

This giveaway will end on December 17th, and the winner will have 48 hours to contact me before a new winner will be chosen.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Vineyard Vines Tervis- Beuller

I fell in love with these adorable Tervis Tumblers on the Vineyard Vines site.
As soon as I saw the set, I knew I had to have the pink whale one. I don't want any of the other ones in the set. They don't do anything for me quite like the whale one does. He makes me happy.

I don't want to order the whole set of four. If anyone out there is ordering the set and doesn't mind parting with the whale one, please let me know. I will gladly pay you for it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chai Y'all

About a year and a half ago, I discovered My Flip Flopz through the blogosphere. My apartment at the time needed some sprucing up, so I contacted her about making a sign for it.

This was the finished result:
a reference to one of my favorite Jimmy Buffett songs

When I moved to Germany, it got hung up on the wall of our office. The wall had two nails on it (from a hideous painting that came with the house), and I never for the life of me could figure out what to hang on the other nail.

Then one day, TLS told me how growing up, his Nana had a sign hanging in her house that said

He didn't know what happened to the sign but wished that he had it now.

A bit of a lesson here: that symbol is the Hebrew word for "life." It is considered to be a very lucky symbol in Judaism. It is pronounced Chai, but with an h sound, so the sign would sound like "hi y'all."

Anyhoo, I thought this was one of the awesomest things ever, and I knew we had to have one. I emailed Susie to see if she could make me another sign to hang next to my Fins Up one. I also linked her to the Wikipedia page for Chai. I was sure she was going to think that I had lost a few a marbles. Then this showed up in our mailbox:

We currently have the two signs hanging next to each other, but hope to move the Chai Y'all one next to our entryway.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Exfoliating Minerals Review

A couple of weeks ago, I got contacted by Exfoliating Minerals to review their facial cleanser. I am a total beauty product junkie (I can just blink and suddenly I've spent at least $200 in Sephora like that!) so of course I jumped at the chance.

First things first- I have to be honest here- this stuff is not cheap. At all. At $48 for a 4 oz. tube, it is the most expensive face wash I have used. TLS, whose facial product of choice is "whatever's on special at the commissary this week," balked at the price. I had to assure him that I did no in fact pay for this. Twice.

Those of you who like to buy American will be happy to know that this product is made in the USA. Yay Exfoliating Minerals. Also, it is all-natural, eco-friendly, and Exfoliating Minerals does not test on Animals. This helps make the cost seem like a much better value.

With that said, I used the cleanser every day for two weeks, morning and night. I did not use any of my other face washes (that's right- plural- I told y'all I'm a junkie didn't I?) at this time, to truly test it out. I love scrubs for both my face and my body and was expecting something coarse and gritty. What I got was a clear, free-flowing gel in a tube. I was skeptical. No way in heck was this stuff going to work. But nevertheless, I made a commitment to give it a shot, so here went nothing.

What I noticed right away was that it smelled great. Kind of citrus-y with a mix of something I couldn't quite put my finger on. Later, while looking at their ingredient list, I noticed that it's made with lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits. Well that would do it. If nothing else, this would definitely be my best-smelling facial cleanser.

I half expected it to get gritty once I put it on my face. It didn't. Seriously, if you're looking for a grainy, coarse, scrub, look elsewhere. It felt completely smooth on my skin, and after just two days, I noticed a difference in how glowy my skin looked. I did notice a difference in some dry patches, so I guess it worked.

Final note- like I said before, the gel is very free-flowing, so when you first use it, be careful to only squirt out a tiny amount. A little bit here does go a long way.

In general, I fell in love with this cleanser and will definitely continue to use it in the future.

Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this review. I received a tube of this product to try and keep. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The one with the puffy vest

Since Hannukah is just 17 days away, it's been time for me to make my wish list and send it of to my mother.

This season, my mother has been on a kick of buying me warm winter gear (flannel pajamas, new duvets, wool socks, etc.). It's just as well considering I pretty much live in an igloo.

What I really wanted for Hannukah was adorable Kate Spade hat.
it has a bow on it- how could I not?
Knowing that my mother is always on me to make sure I wear a hat, and that she cannot resist anything with the words Kate Spade on it (the apple doesn't fall all that far from the tree), I figured it was a pretty safe bet that I'd get it.

Just in case though, I decided to hedge my bets and put on it the other cold-weather item I really wanted, this Patagonia vest.
My mother hates vests. Hates them. Also, she hates anything white. (Technically, this color is called "Pearl," but close enough.) Plus it costs $150.00. I knew that there was no way in heck my mother would spend that on something that didn't have sleeves. The Kate Spade hat costs only $85- a lot for a hat, but about half the cost of the vest, so I figured including the vest on my list would make it look cheaper by comparison.

Last night, as Porky Pig was wildly flapping his arms outside my third story bedroom window, my husband came home with our mail for the day. In it was my Hannukah gift from my mother.

She got me the vest.

Go figure.

It is a lot thinner than I expect, and definitely very slim fitting, but it is a rather super-awesome vest. My usual rule with Hannukah gifts is that regardless of when you give them to me, I won't use or open them until Hannukah actually starts, but I had to break it with this vest. I want to get as much use out of it while I still can, before it gets too cold.

One of the vest's more awesome qualities is the fact that one of its pockets converts into a pouch, and you can take the entire thing, smush it up, and zip it into the pouch and then throw it into your Longchamp or wherever. Thereby avoiding snooty coat-check attendants, long lines, and leaving the house with all of your winter garb on only to discover that 35 minutes later, it's actually 65 degrees and sunny out. (What? Like this hasn't happened to you before?)  Brilliant.

Husband and I decided to test this out last night so I rolled it up into the pouch. We then proceeded to spend a solid 20 minutes playing catch with the vest.*

I'm sure my mother would love knowing that she just paid $150+shipping for a volleyball.

*we don't have cable
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad