June 11, 2015

How to Install Screens in your German windows

It’s officially SUMMER! 
If you live in Germany, then it’s time to open up those windows and turn on the fans.  This may also mean that your house now has a welcome sign for flies to come into your house! 
This is a big problem here due to most housing in Germany having gorgeous, wonderful, large windows that open nice and wide…however, almost no houses come with screens on the windows.
You may be asking why is this a problem?  Just turn on the A.C. you say?  Well, we live in Europe and in Europe; air conditioning is not really something that houses have.  If you want an air conditioning unit it costs a few hundred euros. 
My household lives off of fans and open windows and we are fine in the summer time.  It does get super-hot here,don’t get me wrong.  But, it’s bearable.
Have no fear!  I’m here to give you my #1 summer tip for keeping those pesky in bugs out of your German house.
At almost ANY German hardware style store (Globus, Toom, Hela, etc.) you can find inexpensive screens.  They come in white or black and a variety of different sizes (just remember they are measured in cm-so don’t make the mistake of thinking a screen will fit your size window if you measured your house window size in inches and then you grab a screen that is too small). 

The back of the box has simple instructions so you can get the idea of how to install the screen.  Each box comes with one screen, and the screen ‘tape’.
This screen cost me 199 euro (about $2.25)
Here are the steps:
Clean off the perimeter of the inside of your window-I use a Lysol wipe.  The reason you want to do this is to make sure to get any dirt and dust off the edge where you will be applying the screen tape.  This way the tape adheres well to the window.  Otherwise it will constantly fall down or come undone when you close and open the window. 

See how I'm cleaning the 'middle' of the window seal
***Make sure that you are cleaning off and applying the tape to the inside panel perimeter of the window.  If you apply it to the wrong part then you just bust out the screen every time you close it.  This will be clearer with my pictures and as you get further into the steps, so don’t worry). ***

Let the window dry.  The screen tape will not stick well if the window perimeter is still wet from wiping it down.
Meanwhile, unfold the screen and hold it up to the window to ensure it will fit the window opening.  It’s best if you leave about ½ inch extra on each edge.  This is because if the window is too taut and you shut the window sometimes the screen will come loose on an edge.
This is what happened when I didn't allow for some extra on the edges of the window and I made it too tight and then closed the window-it came undone.
If you install the screen with a little give, then you will NEVER have a problem.  Once you have estimated the size of the screen, if it is too big, simply cut the screen to fit the size of the window.  Just use a simple pair of scissors.  Super easy! 
Put the screen aside for the next step. 
Take your screen tape and remove a small section of the wax paper overlay. 

Notice the small flexible plastic 'teeth'
Do not unroll all of the screen tape or remove too much of the wax paper overlay or you will have a sticky mess.  Press the sticky side of the screen tape to the window perimeter that you previously wiped down.  Go a few inches at a time in order to make sure that it is a nice and neat (not a sticky mess) application.  Cut the tape to fit.
***This tape is a great little invention.  One side of it is sticky (this is the window perimeter edge) and the other has these little flexible plastic grippers on them (this is what the actual screen sticks to).
After the tape is installed all around the edge, it’s time for the last step-installing the screen.
press the screen to the plastic grippers on the sticky tape you just installed

This is super easy.  Just hold the screen up to the window opening and make sure to leave about ½ inch extra on all edges.  Press the screen to the grippers on the tape and voila!  Do this on all 4 edges.  Once again, make sure not to make the screen too tight.  If you have too much extra for your liking over the edges you can trim them off.  It’s all up to you.
Here's a picture of the screen I installed in my daughters room to illustrate the extra screen to ensure it's not too tight

That’s it!  5 simple steps to be bug free in the heat of summer. 
Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll help the best I can.
Prior to installing the screen
WITH the screen installed-you can barely tell it's there:)
 Happy Summer Everyone!

June 01, 2015

Coach's gifts

Soccer, Basketball, T-ball, Gymnastics...Any and All kids sports have one thing in common-a coach.  In most cases there are more than one coach.
Any of us with kiddos who play sports, knows that it takes someone with extreme patience, eyes in the back of their heads, and a sense of humor to coach children.
At the end of the season it's always nice to thank those who have volunteered their time to help introduce our children into the world of sports.

Themed baskets are nice, gift certificates, things made by the team-these are always good ideas.
One year my husband got a gift card for a free game of golf when he coached our little ones soccer team.  He LOVED that gift! 

This year my little girl played on a T-ball team.  We had 3 dad's that were wonderful enough to step up and volunteer to coach these 5 and 6 year olds.

I put together 3 thank you baskets for each coach.  Nothing too fancy-but fun.  I went with a baseball theme-of course:)

I searched endlessly for big league chewing gum-but could not find any at the stores on our base or out on the German economy.  So...I improvised.

I included a framed team picture, beef jerky, sunflower seeds, baseball cards, and a gag gift-giant coaches whistle.  I also went to our local craft store and got supplies to make thank you pennants for each basket.  I think they turned out pretty cute!

What do  you all get for your kid's coaches?

May 13, 2015

German Trash-How to Recycle

So, in Germany you have to pay for your trash to be picked up.  Lots of landlords include the trash fee into your rent.  It could get pricey, depending on your location, due to recycling being a German law. On average I've been told families could pay around 10-30 euro a month for trash.

When we moved into our house, figuring out the trash schedule seemed daunting, but it's actually not that difficult once you have a little knowledge on the subject. 

Due to recycling being the law in Germany, there are some guidelines necessary for success. 
First, there are yellow bags.  We live and die by these yellow bags;)  What goes into the yellow bags?
Cans, plastic, polystyrene, aluminum, tinplate and "composite" materials like beverage cartons made of a mixture of materials. 
In my house we have a full sized trash can that holds a yellow trash bag.  My kids know what goes into the yellow recycling trash can.  But, before they got the hang of it I kept a list of items that go into the yellow bag taped to the side of the trash can for their reference. (soda cans, juice boxes, tin foil, plastic wrap, etc.)
Yellow bags can be picked up at city hall or you can leave a really nice note on your trash can when your 'food' trash is taken requesting more yellow trash bags from the garbage man.  Simply put a sign out on your trash can stating "Mehr Gelbes Sacks, Bitte".  This does not always mean that your garbage man will have them to give to you OR that he/she will feel like being courteous and leave the yellow bags for you.  This should be a back up plan if you are not able to get to the town hall/city hall in your area and pick some up.

Paper and cardboard: Recycle paper and cardboard in the large blue containers or in a designated residential bin for paper items, depending on one's location.
We have a large blue topped trashcan that is for our paper and cardboard.  We break down all of it so that we can have plenty of room for all of the paper recycling in the blue recycling trash can. 
On our trash can on the right you can see a small, white rectangle sticker on the side.  On this sticker is a bar code our trash man scans verifying we pay for our trash to actually be picked up by him/her. ( I didn't take a close up due to it having our address listed on it).

For example:  If you finish a box of cereal-take out the plastic bag that the cereal was in and put that empty plastic bag into the yellow trash bag.  Then take the cereal box, break it down, and put that into your blue recycling trash bin.

Trash:  What constitutes trash?  Due to ALL the recycling in Germany, what you are left with (if you recycle correctly) is mostly the "other stuff" and biological waste.  This includes kitchen scraps, peels, leftover food, coffee filters, tea bags, garden waste, etc.  Your trash should go into your trash can supplied by your landlord.  This trash can should have a bar code somewhere on it that the garbage collector scans (see above picture).  Each trash can has to be registered in order to let you throw out your trash (your landlord should handle this for you).  That is why you pay a trash fee-when you pay for your trash you are registering your trash can and when the garbage man takes your trash and scans it, there is electronic verification that you paid for it to be picked up.

Glass: Glass items, to include bottles and jars, need to be separated according to their color and recycled in appropriate containers in a resident's community. The three categories for separating glass are brown; white or clear; and green and all other colors. You will see every few blocks large silver metal bins, about 5 feet tall, that have small holes in the tops of them to deposit your glass jars.  The labeling on the bins is super easy to know which color glass item goes into which bin because the signs are brown, green, and white;)
See how the left sticker is brown, the middle is white and the far right one has a green sticker?

Bulk trash: Larger items, including furniture, mattresses, carpets, rugs or bicycles, may be placed outside on bulk trash pickup days. If a resident does not know the collection schedule, they can ask their landlord or neighbors when bulk trash is collected.  Bulk trash is usually scheduled 2 times a year. 

Each county or village area should have a trash schedule posted online.  When all else fails, just look to see when your neighbors put out which trash and follow suit.

Here is what the 2015 trash schedule looks like for the Eifel area.  Do not get overwhelmed.  Below the chart is a breakdown of how to read this thing.;)

Sorry for the poor picture quality-my computer was having issues, so I had to take a picture of my screen:/

First of all, find your village.  For our purposes, lets choose one:  Speicher.
Speicher is the last village listed on this chart.  You will see that there are very light greyed out dates, blue and yellow dates, and orange dates.
The light greyed out dates are your trash days:  i.e.  the 'other stuff' and biological waste.
The blue and yellow dates are your recycling days:  your yellow bags should be set out the night before and your blue paper/cardboard bins/trash cans set out as well. 
The orange dates are your bulk trash pick up days:  furniture, carpets, etc.
So, for Speicher it read like this (for 2015): 
           Trash days:  January 5, 19
                                February 2, 17
                                March 2, 16, 28
                                April 13, 27
          Recycling days (yellow bags and blue paper/cardboard bins): 
                               January 12, 13
                               February 9, 10
                               March 9, 10
                               April 7, 8
          Bulk trash days: 
                              January 27, 28
                              May 12, 13
                              September 29, 30

***Please note this is my personal experience and suggestions, but may not apply to everyone or every village***

Eifel Trash Schedule Online-http://www.bitburg-pruem.de/cms/images/stories/Entsorgungskaledner_Speicher_mit_Vorblatt_Hosten.pdf

April 21, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Gift

Teacher Appreciation Gift Alternative

Let’s face it-teachers have one of the toughest jobs in the world.  Hat’s off to any person that is willing to work all day shaping the minds of our little ones, staying up late grading papers, making lesson plans and updating class websites.  As well as, working weeks through the summer to set up their classroom with a fun and interesting theme to inspire their students.
Teacher Appreciation week is a great time to thank your child’s teacher or daycare provider.  If you can’t do something small each day of the week, then doing something at least one day of the ‘appreciation week’ is well received. You could even do an end of the year gift for your child's teacher.
My sister is a teacher and she appreciates getting gift cards-to anywhere, really.  Getting USEFUL gift cards is great, such as:  Michael’s arts and crafts, Paneras, any restaurant, etc. 
If you want to do something more personalized, you can always help your child make a sweet gift.  Pinterest has a ton of ideas!  But, you can also put together a themed gift.  Gourmet coffees with a travel mug is always nice, when you include a hand written note from the student with it. 
Last year my son had a male teacher and he was AMAZING!  I looked to Pinterest to help me find a ‘manly’ teacher appreciation gift and didn’t find anything really great…it seemed like many gift ideas included beer or were kind of cheesy.
So, I took it upon myself to make a gift basket that I was hoping would be useful and fun at the same time. 
I went to a local store in my village (yes, I said village-we live in Germany and there are little towns everywhere and the locals call them villages) and bought a plastic bin and some color coordinating ‘grilling equipment’, such as:  rubber pot holders, marinating brush, and spatula.  I then went to the store and purchased a few nice BBQ spice rubs and sauces to include in the gift basket as well.  I had my son write his teacher a card to top off the gift baskets contents. 
I LOVED how this turned out and even better…his teacher said that he grills EVERY Sunday afternoon, even in the snow, and that this was the perfect gift for him.  I was thrilled that is was received so well and really enjoyed hunting for the perfect items to include in this teacher appreciation gift for my son’s wonderful teacher! 
Hope this inspires you to think outside of the box and find that personalized gift for your child’s teacher-they deserve it. 

March 29, 2015

Cochem Chairlift

     This chairlift was the original reason for me wanting to go and explore this area.  It was a 2 for one special,in my opinion, to ride the chairlift with my kiddos to the top of a mountain AND eat lunch.  During lunch we were able to look out and see Cochem castle across the way.  After lunch we then went to the castle.  It was a great day trip and we stuffed so much sight seeing into it!

 Across the river and opposite of Cochem castle you can get a fantastic view of Cochem via a chairlift.  
We went on the chairlift before visiting the castle.  
The lift was super easy to access.  We typed in the address: Enderstrasse 44, Cochem into our GPS and went straight to the lift parking lot.  You must pay for parking, but it was 2 euro for us and we used the lift for about 2 hours. 

To enter the parking lot you push a button for a parking ticket and a bar gate lifts and allows you into the lot.  When you exit the lot, you insert your ticket, pay the amount displayed on the screen, and then the bar gate lifts and you can exit-ALL of this is super simple.
The lift is exactly like a ski lift.   We went in the summer time and it was super-hot, and the shade at the top of the mountain was a blessing!  The lift process is extremely easy.  You go up to the lift window and request your tickets (we had 2 adults and 2 children).  Tickets for the chairlift are 4 euro one way or 5,50 euro round trip and operates between the first weekend of April and mid-November from 9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. 
Once you purchase your tickets, you go to the front of the lift at the bottom of the mountain and give your tickets to an attendant.  He takes the tickets and punches a hole in them and then hands them back to you so that you have them for the return trip down the mountain.  Then he steadies one of the chairs for you and you just hop right on.
Cochem castle is in the distance.

BE CAREFUL, because the lap bar that comes down does NOT lock!  It has a little foot hook on it to hold the lap bar down with your feet.  However, if you just let your feet dangle and do not continue to hold the lap bar down with your hands, that puppy will come flying up and then you have nothing to guard you or your kiddo from falling out the front.  But, if you air on the side of caution and know this prior to getting on the chair lift you will be fine.   
You will also be in for a view like no other!  It’s gorgeous!  At the top of the chairlift you hop right out at the top of the mountain.  


 There is a restaurant up a path at the mountain peak (you’ll see signs and arrows to the restaurant).

We didn’t even know there was a restaurant at the top, but it was getting close to lunch and we followed the signs to the restaurant and thought “why not?”

View from the restaurant.
It had a great view of Cochem castle and had indoor and outside seating.  The food was fine, nothing spectacular and a little pricy, but we were getting hungry and didn’t know of any other quick alternative for lunch. 
After lunch we went down the path back to the chairlift to hop on and get a ride back down to the bottom of the mountain.  This was a great way to see Cochem and get an idea of the route to the castle itself.  We just handed our round trip chairlift ticket to the attendant, jumped into a seat, held on for dear life, and enjoyed the ride.  It takes about 10 minute each way to get to the top and bottom of the mountain via the chairlift.  It really is a good experience and the kids had a great time!

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