My Kitchen Essentials

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I love when monthly themed prompts line up with the correct day of the week – like when "kitchen essentials" (#30lists day #22) is the prompt for Friday "food" day.

My essentials, in order, from least important to most:

10. Cheese Grater 

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is amazing. Seriously. No italian meal is complete without it.

9. Baking Pans 

How else will we make cookies?

8. Cast Iron pans. 

They make the world go 'round.  

Or at least … they are round … sometimes. ;) 

7. Cutting Board & Sharp Knives 

I have learned my lesson. Long gone are the days of cutting things on paper plates and using dull knives. My husband has ingrained this one into me…

6. Pots 

How else will I cook rice and noodles? (Don't say "rice cooker".)

5. Kitchenaid Stand Mixer 

I love our Kitchenaid branded mixer and I could never go back to the old whatever-the-cheap-brand-was-that-we-had,

4. Oven 

Cake. 'nough said! :)

3. Stove 

For arguments sake, the kitchen doesn't automatically come with this either. Where else am I going to use my pots?

2. Fridge 

I learned the hard way through friends that life without a fridge is a sad day indeed. How else will you keep all of your dairy products cold? … And do you have to purchase meat on an "as needed" basis?


Seriously, he makes the best food! He is creative and daring … even willing! I receive a cookbook to test and review, and he works with me on it. In the past five years that we've been married, we've experimented with making fries Belgian style, creating our own rotisserie for making trdelnik, using dry ice and alcohol to modify the KitchenAid ice cream attachment for the KitchenAid mixer, and spent three days making croissants when we returned from France and I was craving them. He's not afraid to try anything in the kitchen, and I love that he takes my criticism and modifies his food so that it tastes better to me. I can't even begin to imagine cooking/baking without him in my life; I feel like my life would include far less tasty and delicious things. 

What are some of your kitchen essentials? Do we share any commonalities?

Ten Things I'm Good At

"Are you happy? Is that what you want to do for the rest of your life?" He didn't say it condescendingly, but the words definitely felt condescending.

Justin and I were attending a birthday party. We had just gotten through the typical small talk questions of "What's you name? Isn't the weather nice? And what do you do for a living?"

I always feel so small when people ask me what I do for a living. I'm not a computer engineer making a difference in the lives of ALS patients like my husband. I don't have children so I can't claim "housewife" status. And my life is far from what I ever expected it to be. I'm not living the American dream; I don't have 2.5 kids, a minivan, or even a house with a white picket fence.

But I have travelled to Europe. I am married to an amazing man. And, crazy enough, I actually like what I do.

Nevertheless, sometimes it's difficult to have confidence when I'm in situations like that. Sometimes it's difficult to see that my life has worth.

As an answer to that feeling of insecurity, here are ten things I'm good at:

1. Travel Planning

I'm not always good at managing my time for travel planning, but when I do plan, I'm good at it. (We won't say the same for travel budgeting. 😳)

2. Planning, in general.

You need a list? I'm there!

Organizing files, dressers, drawers, or cabinets? I'll do it.

Labeling is good too.

3. Editing text.

In school, I was the go-to text editor, specifically if you were a friend and we didn't share the same English/LA class. I'm all about finding the right word(s) and clarifying what is being said. (No, my blog should not be confused as an example.)

Words matter.

4. Research.

Give me google or give me death.

I'm not talking about scholastic research (though they were my favorite types of papers to write), I'm talking about finding answers to questions.

Today's google search: How do you book a Korean Air flight with Delta miles? Answer? patience. And possibly a call to Delta. (In other words, I learned it wasn't really worth it unless you stumbled upon a good deal.)

5. Being Quiet.

Two weekends ago a waitress who didn't know me from any other Tom, Dick, or Harry came up to me and said "you're quiet". Umm thanks? Is that a compliment?

But seriously, I hear it all of the time.

"You should talk more."

"You're too quiet. 😉"

Well maybe you talk too much?! Ever think about that?

6. My Reliability.

If I say I'm going to do something, I do it. No matter what.

7. My Candor.

Don't get me wrong–I do lie, occasionally. But 99.999999% of the time, I'll tell you the truth even if you don't want to hear it. I feel like you should know the real me and not some person I'm pretending to be. Plus, I'm not very good at lying unless I have convinced myself that the lie could be true.

My grandparents called it correctly when they told me a story about how my grandmother took me shopping then told me not to tell my grandfather how much we spent. Immediately upon returning to their home I waltzed in, 5 years old or so, and told my grandfather happily that "We took the price tags off of the toys so that you wouldn't know how much we spent!" 😉 😳 😞 Yep, that's me. I didn't tell … exactly.

8. I'm considerate.

I will put your happiness or best interest ahead of my own.

9. Staying up late.

Don't ask me to get up early unless we are doing something really exciting,

But staying up late? How late do we want to stay up? … until the sun comes up? 😉

10. Writing daily … or almost daily.

That's why I have a blog, I think. 😊

Are there ever situations or times when some part of your life makes you feel insecure? What do you do when that happens? Can you think of ten things you are good at?

*Join #TopTenThursday by clicking over to Confessions of a Part Time Working Mom and linking up your blog post for this week's top ten!

Paris: Seine River

July 2016

For #30lists (day 20): I do my best thinking when ______.
• I have no distractions. No noise, no facebook, no TV.
• at least 20 minutes have passed after starting a project when surrounded by people/noise/whatever. (I need the time to disconnect from my surroundings.)
• I have a goal in mind.
• I feel encouraged and loved.
• I have beautiful scenery. 😉

When do you do your best thinking? Can you focus in a loud environment? Is working from the local Starbucks an option? Or do you need someplace quieter like the library? … or more private like your home?

Linking up for #Wordless Wednesday with Talbert Zoo!

English that Germans get Wrong

Photo credit: Caio Jhonny via Visual Hunt / CC BY

This past summer Justin and I took our third trip to Europe meeting with some German friends and exploring the north west French coast. While we always have fun with them, there are definitely times when their English makes me think twice…

1. Mostly used in email context, I've been hearing "somewhen" for the last fifteen years! And not just from the friends we were traveling with in France; I've heard it from German tourists my husband has just happened to make conversation with in the states. "Irgendwann" just happens to be a thing they say that when directly translated becomes "somewhen".

In the US, saying "somewhen" is not common; however it can be found in the dictionary.

My husband and I have tried to come up with alternatives for "somewhen" for our friends to use, but ultimately we find ourselves at a loss. The use for "somewhen" is so much more varied than even the English equivalent of "sometime" or "sometimes" … or "somewhere".

In the end I've found myself arguing for "somewhen" even when it is not traditionally acceptable. I consider it a cute quirk of my German friends, and it always makes me smile to hear them say "somewhen". Furthermore, I always know what they mean through the context of the sentence. In that way, the particularities of the English language matter far less. I'd rather hear the somewhat unusual "somewhen" than no words at all.

2. A new Germanism for me while visiting France: "Let's take a bath."


My first thought upon hearing this:

a. There are no bathtubs in our Airbnb. Do they mean shower? … as in get cleaned up? … or bathe together? 😳
b. Are they talking about going to a spa? … a nude spa? (y'know because bath = water + naked and we were traveling through France where nude spas are actually a thing).

I have to admit I was a little shocked at the suggestion of a bath. I definitely had no intention of stripping down to my birthday suit with these people. A nude spa or skinny dipping at the beach? Or bathing at the Airbnb … together? Yeah, no. They were more than welcome to do it, but I'm as American and prudish as they come. No friend naked-time for me.

While "baden" does mean to "bathe", in German you can say you want to "baden gehen" which means to swim, so when our friends were saying they wanted to go take a "bath" what they really meant was that they wanted to swim … in the ocean … in a bathing suit.

I got lucky there! 😛

3. Something I never expected to discover while talking to Germans, aside from their intense recycling, hatred for the death penalty, and love of beer/sausage, is that "smoking" doesn't necessarily involve cigarettes in the EU. Originally taken from the English "smoking jacket" which is a nice jacket one smokes in (I'm guessing from an earlier time when smoking was in vogue? early 1900s perhaps?), the term "smoking", as my German friends refer to it, is used to describe a fancy place where a dinner jacket, suit and tie, and/or dress with heels is worn. Definitely very different from the Marlboro I pictured in my head.

4. I'm not really sure why this came up, but at some point during our time in France, the female of our two German friends indicated that she needed to wash her "hairs". Having been warned of this in German class many years prior (die Haare vs. das Haar), I knew that Germans referred to hair in the plural form; however, this did not keep my mind from conjuring up images of Medusa with her head full of snake hair. 😳

5. In America, we say something is funny if it makes us laugh and fun if it makes us happy. Germans, however, can use one word to describe both: lustig. So, in directly translating, a German may say something is "funny" when they mean "fun" or "fun" when something is "funny". Are you confused yet? Just listen to the context of their sentence and you'll, hopefully, figure it out! 😀

6. And finally, the most confusing of all, is when Germans "invite" you to do something. What they really mean is that not only are you welcome to come along, but that they will also pay for you as well! And, crazily enough, it's a BIG deal.

We were in line to go to the top of a building in France, when my husband whispers to me that he is going to pay for our German friends. So then our turn at the register comes and my husband says "4 tickets please". The German friends look at me and say "did he invite us?" 😳 Umm … yes. Yes he did. 😜 #ICanKeepASecret #UntilTheyReadMyBlog

In case you are German and reading my blog (or any other European nationality), "to invite" in English simply means you are invited to come along. We never said anything about picking up your tab. If we are offering to pay for you, we will say it … or surprise you. It's at our discretion. 😉 In my opinion, that sometimes make the "gifting experience" all the more fun. 😀

All of the interesting quirks and mis-translations of the English language make traveling with non-Americans all the more fun. It's a great opportunity to learn something new about your native tongue as well as gaining insight into other cultures.

If you are interested in this topic, and specifically interested in other words that Germans get wrong in the English language, check out Don't Trust the Rabbit, which helped to inspire this post. While I don't agree with all of the mistranslations she presents (an American would definitely understand and perhaps use "backside" when describing a mall or sheet of paper), it is intriguing to hear what Germans think they are getting wrong.

Have you ever heard any mistranslations in English or any other language that have made you laugh, made you cringe, or left you confused? What words do you always get wrong when speaking a foreign language?

** Linking up to City Trippers and

Top Eight Beauty Products

It's been awhile since we've talked beauty at this-here blog, so I thought I'd share a few of my current favorites. In the past I've spouted the praises of such brands as Mary Kay and Bare Minerals, but today I have new brands to introduce to you–some you may have heard of and some you may not. Either way, these brands have changed my life.

1. Once at Anthropologie and now no more, it seems I will have to try harder to find my favorite brand of toothpaste, Apothic & Co Winter Green. Unlike other fancy brands of Toothpaste like Toms of Maine (which is actually not organic) and Marvis (which the husband loves),Apothic and Co toothpaste takes some getting used to. It's more like an actual paste for your teeth rather than the more gel like Crest or Colgate. For me, the area of importance is that the product doesn't dry out my mouth or lips as much as other products. There's nothing worse than feeling parched after a toothbrushing session only to find that every drink you consume tastes like mint. Yes, I suppose you could use a different flavor of toothpaste, but that doesn't necessarily solve the problem. Whatever it is, Apothic & Co has solved it for me and, so long as I can find their products, I will continue using them from now until … I find something better. :)

2. The product I never meant to fall in love with but did is Golden Door Daily Exfoliating Serum. I received it as part of a package from the company to try–including face mask and face scrub. At over $100 in value, I found it a bit hilarious that the only product I actually fell in love with was the serum. But dear Lord, I don't want to be me when I run out of this stuff. At $88 a bottle, I imagine it will be quite the experience convincing my husband to let me purchase a replacement. "It's just soap!" he'll say. And I'll be all like, "No, it's moisturizing soap and my skin loves it!" Maybe I'll throw a "Don't you love me?" with a pitiful face in there for good measure. :)

Seriously though, I have always been in the it's just soap camp wherein you go to the store and buy whatever name brand (Suave, Lever2000, what-have-you) is on sale and use it until it runs out for … well, my whole life. Then I met Golden Door and my skin problems (what few there were, mostly dry skin) seemed to vanish into thin air. This was something even the best lotion wasn't handling! I love that this product is gentle on skin and perfect for everyday use. Even at it's high cost, you don't need more than a tiny bit for the whole of your face. I'll go back to the other not-as-good soaps if I have to, but Golden Door will always have my heart. <3.

3. Back before Christmas, as Justin and I prepped to visit Europe for the second time in our lives, my face decided to break out. And the pimples never went away. never. I still, months later, have red spots on my face, although, thank God, just a bit lighter than they were more than six months ago. And for someone who has rarely gotten pimples in the past (great skin ftw!), having pimples (or red scars) is/was slightly embarrassing. Mario Badescu's Drying Lotion hasn't solved all of my problems (specifically the ones that were already there–like pimples that never go away), but it has helped to minimize their appearance and conquer other pimples that have reared their ugly head.

ProTip: Stick a Q-tip directly into the Drying Lotion bottle without shaking it! (It actually says not to shake it on the bottle.) Then apply, the "lotion" to your spots.

This product can be rather strong on sensitive skin, so be aware of that and only use as little as you need. And always use a fresh Q-tip when applying the product. If you use your hands, you can transfer more bacteria to the area, which won't help at all.

4. If you know me at all, in real life that is, you know I am a "simpleton". My make-up drawer is rather limited and I'm entirely too picky about the make-up I will wear, even though I don't usually wear much (if any) make up to begin with. I mean–my skin is good but not great. I still deal with things like pimples (see above) and dark undereye circles that never seem to diminish no matter how much sleep I get the night before. As such, I've never been a mascara girl. I've always envied those girls with the long, beautiful lashes, but spending money to find a product that would give me them? Not as important as say traveling to Europe or getting a new book. Then I receive the Covergirl Super Sizer Fibers Mascara to try (not necessarily to review). I loved it. It was so easy to apply, and it looked super natural. I could definitely see myself fitting this into my beauty routine in the future. Even as minimalist as I am. There's nothing better than fast beauty, especially if it adds to your confidence as well. :)

5. To conquer those zits that add never-ending color to my face, Justin and I went on an Ulta run where I sampled as many products as necessary to solve my problems right before our third trip to Europe. First on the list, a color correcting crayon. I actually read about these on facebook, and being a photoshopper, it made complete sense to me. If someone has a red spot on their face in photoshop, you color over it with a green brush, as light in color as possible but strong enough to get rid of the red tint. I could hardly believe it though when I found myself using those same techniques on my own skin in real life. Like with the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, the Japonesque Green Crayon (also sold in yellow and purple) won't be a be-all-end-all type of product, but, paired with a good concealer, it can work wonders for your skin color and confidence.

To clarify how amazing this product is even more, the morning following the Bastille Day fireworks I awoke with a literal red nose, like Rudolph (the reindeer). Aside from freaking out, like I always do, I confidently used the pencil on a huge area of my nose going over it with concealer. Did my nose look incredibly pale and oddly not-nose-like? Probably. But the point was, every day until my red nose was gone (from allergies? We still don't know what caused it.), this product never failed me once. I did have to apply it more than once a day, but isn't that normal? Eh. Until I find something that will last all day, I'll take the product that works–the one I have right here and right now.

6. That good concealer I was talking about? For me it came in a small package from Philosophy called Hope For Everywhere. (What are they implying?) After trying multiple shades at Ulta, I found myself purchasing this expensive product in shade #4.5. At $26 a pop, I made sure that the concealer actually did it's job before buying. I tried it over my pimples and under my eyes… And, ultimately, I decided the price was worth it. Since I don't purchase many make up products, my husband agreed.

This concealer only offers 7ml of protection and with the brush tip, the product comes out fast. Be aware! It can be easy to use more concealer than you actually need. However, it's also worth mentioning that this concealer is not something I would recommend for people who need full face coverage. It's simply too expensive for that (imho). Furthermore, I did find myself reapplying the concealer as it wore off throughout the day. Usually only once or twice, and it was super easy to do on the run. I hardly felt the weight of the product in the purse that I don't usually carry. :) I will be purchasing this product again, but I will keep my eye out for something better.

7. Formula X: The System Xcel Gel-Like Manicure Set has been yet another surprise in my life. Received from Influenster with a bubblegum pink nail polish, I tried the set expecting just another nail polish. Nothing special right? Except that this uncoordinated and impatient blogger was able to apply it smoothly and quickly getting an almost professional look without much effort at all. And the polish is so smooth that I expect it to last for days… This product definitely came as a surprise and I'm so glad it did!

8. With gel-like nail polish, you need a good nail polish remover. Enter Delete All Formula X. Fast, easy. Then you can move on with your life. Or paint your nails a different shade. Totally up to you!

I'm so thankful for companies like Influenster and PinchMe that provide awesome products for me to try. When you are on a budget, skincare isn't always top priority so you buy the cheap stuff never knowing what you are missing out on. And your skin suffers for it. Furthermore, how in the world, without samples, are you suppose to know what works for you and what doesn't without actually trying it first? There are so many products available on the marketplace that it can get overwhelming! And expensive! Fast!

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my favorite skincare and nailcare products in this post. If you venture out to try them, be sure to let me know in the comments what you think! And if you've tried the products before, let me know if they work for your skin as well as they do mine. Maybe you know of better products on the market than I do? I'd love to hear!

Linking up with All the Beautiful Things and Run Jump Scrap.

* I received a few of the products on this page in exchange for providing a review. All opinions are my own.

Urban Pie Pizza: the NYC Answer to Frozen Pizza

Thanks to BzzAgent, Justin and I got a few moments break during the hectic last days of summer as we frantically attempted to complete everything before our days got shorter and the sun was down earlier. We received a free coupon to try Urban Pie pizza in exchange for a review, and boy was I surprised by the result!

Urban Pie pizza was designed to break the mold of other frozen pizza brands aiming to offer a unique take on each of four bureaus found within New York City: Little Italy, Mission District, Lakeview, and North End. As such, you will everything from your plain margherita style (Little Italy) to the best pizza for meat lovers (Mission District). Each pizza offers a thin crust perfectly flaky made with just a touch of Italian "love" added in. The differing pizza flavors all have unique cook times dependent on the fresh ingredients included in each pie–so you are looking at a 10-20 minute cook time for the perfect New York style pizza.

Here are some shots from when we made ours:

Delicious. Fast. Easy.

So that you can focus on the important things in life.

Have you seen Urban Pie pizza at your local grocery store? Are you intrigued by the unique New York bureau inspired flavors? 

Find out more about Urban Pie pizza here.

* I received this product at a discounted cost in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

Famous People I'd Love to Meet

As per the rules of #TopTenThursday, here are ten eight famous people I'd love to meet:

1. Hannah Hart

2. Sue Bryce

3. Lindsay Adler

4. Danica McKellar

5. Mayim Bialik

I love seeing women who truly excel at what they do. Hannah Hart seems like she would make a good friend. Sue Bryce and Lindsay Adler have played a huge role in my development as a photographer, constantly encouraging me and supporting me through providing awesome free classes on CreativeLive. Then there is Danica McKellar and Mayim Bialik who are actresses that have gone all-science. I'm not really a science geek, but I love seeing women that are these types of strong role models in the world for girls that want to go that route–girls who want to be scientists/mathematicians/astronauts/so on and so forth. I think it's absolutely beautiful to see women being more than a pretty face, especially after having been a "pretty face" on television and having that sort of experience where they could have become just the face and nothing more. There had to be some awesome parenting going on in the background of these two girls. :)

Of course there are a few men I admire and would love to meet as well…

6. Flula Borg

7. Tyler Shelton

8. Matthew Kepnes

I think Flula Borg is hilarious. I'm not sure I could chat with him and still maintain a straight face. Tyler Shelton is incredibly creative. Recently his vlog series has begun to bore me, but that engagement video still captivates me. EVERY TIME I watch it. Soo, soo beautiful. :) I'd love to hear his top tips for editing photos and video. Then there is nomadic Matt Kepnes who has been such an inspiration. Before him, I didn't even know traveling for free/cheap was a thing. Plus, he has done amazing work, through his charity, providing the lifetime-changing experience of traveling abroad to students in poor communities. :)

So there you have it. My top eight for Thursday. Yeah, sorry it's not 10. I tried. :)

If you were participating in #TopTenThursday who would be on your list? Movie stars, rock stars, Youtubers, Bloggers, dead people? Share, I'd love to hear! Then link up at the Confessions of a Part Time Working Mom!

* Edited to add one more person: Charlie Puth. He seems awesome and totally down-to-earth.