Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Want to read something random?

I've been looking through my phone and realized that I missed to post a number awesome things we did during this first month of the year.

Before I post a good number of pictures though, let me tell you how yesterday, I had plans to run 3 miles and ended up doing 4, because it felt really good to be running. It was awesome.
Today, I disliked every second of every single one of the 3 miles I did. How does this happen?! None of these runs are long, so they all should be nothing but fantastic and unicorns.

Anyways. Now, I can tell you about the wonderful things we have done this month that (for some reason) never made it to this blog.

On January 1st, we had our one and only take out for this month!

The picture is blurry, because I was shaking from starvation.
Not because I am terrible at taking pictures. 

Then, we celebrated my birthday! I know, such a big event. Practically an international holiday! - and I didn't even tell you when it happened. Trust me, you didn't miss a huge party. We had a very low key day with lots of food.

Cake and ice cream for breakfast! Fruit cake plus mango and yoghurt-lemon ice cream for me, chocolate-bomb cake and camouflage ice cream for Nick.

We also did the next fun thing there is and went to a castle/ museum. If you ever come to Berlin, you have to visit the Castle Charlottenburg. I don't want to tell you too much - just know that Friedrich the Great was born in that castle. Yes. I know! It's pretty exciting!

I made friends again, because I didn't realize that it wasn't allowed to take pictures. I'm glad the one I took was this incredibly pretty boy... (not sure who it is, I was getting yelled at and had to flee quickly).

If anyone recognizes this child, please share.

Who am I?!

Later that day, we went out for drinks. I never have cocktails. Ever. This was the first time in 5 years that I ordered one.

Best part: we didn't know it was happy hour and they gave each of us two!

I thought it was a birthday special just for me, but apparently, they do that every single day from 5-8pm. What a beautiful invention.

Did I mention it was a beach bar?

Who knew that dumping a ton of sand on the ground
really makes you feel you are on vacation!?

We actually just happened to go again with a wonderful couple who decided to move to Berlin very soon!!! YAY! I am incredibly excited about this, because she is an old friend of mine who I hadn't seen in 6 or 7(?) years.

On January 10, Nick and I had a very special date night planned. Eddie Izzard was in town and while he was scheduled to do a program in German for a few days, he did one single show in English. That's the one we went to and it was hysterical. I don't think I've laughed this hard for an hour straight before. Well done, Eddie, well done!

No photographs or video were allowed during the show, but managed to take one picture the second he came on stage.

We had pretty awesome seats! The waitress confused us by putting random drinks on our table. I guess she thought we were thirsty.

A few days ago, I had to take the light rain and passed through the main train station. This is where Nick and I (and all the other people on this planet) celebrated the beginning of the new year.

Not inside, of course, but at the square right in front of the building. 
I think, this is from now on my favorite place in the city. Although I have never been a fan of New Year's parties, this was by far the best celebration I have ever experienced.

Let's hope that the next months will be as wonderful as our start into this year, or at least less scary than the past couple of weeks.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Happiest U-Bahn ride and I nearly died (again)

Things are slowly getting back to normal here, thanks for bearing with me.
On Sunday morning, I went on my happiest U-Bahn (subway) trip yet and picked up Nick from the hospital. There is nothing I am more grateful for than the fact that I was able to walk out of that place with him alive and "well." He is still recovering from his surgery, but all in all, we have plenty of reason to be thankful.

I'm obviously not going to share details or private pictures from the hospital on this blog. Just this much, when we were sent from the doctor's office to the urgent care clinic, I had my first sense of "this is serious" when we were waiting for the doctors to let us know what's happening.

It all looked very medical and scary to me. 
Then, they even took both of us in the ambulance to a different hospital. I had never been in an ambulance and hope that neither of us will never have to do that again. Or any of you. Nobody should ever be in that position.

Never knew before that every item is numbered.
Makes sense though.
Aside from the temperatures in the back of the truck being just around -80F, it felt as if we were going 120mph. I guess it's because you can't look out, but with every corner, I was certain we were about to tip over.

While spending most of my time at the hospital, I still managed to somewhat stick to my training plan. Trust me, there were plenty of times when I thought that forgetting about the half-marathon would be a much better choice, but in the end, it was a lot healthier for both of us that I went to run off at least the tip the mountain of worries. There is really something to gaining strength through running in order to keep it together and not fall apart.

The schedule for last week looked like this:

Tuesday: 3 mile run
Wednesday: 4 mile run
Thursday: 3 mile run
Saturday: 6 mile run
Sunday: cross

This is what I actually did:

Tuesday: -
Wednesday: 4 miles (@9:42)
Thursday: 3 miles (@something terrible)
Saturday: 6 miles (@9:42)
Sunday: -

Nick's surgery was Tuesday morning, so obviously I didn't run that day. I moved my 3 miles on Thursday to the treadmill, because it got really cold here in Berlin. However, the running at the gym  is still as awful as it was before, which brought me to the conclusion that I can't possible do 6 miles on the treadmill on Saturday. So I moved my long run outside. Where it was 9F (about -12C). I'm convinced it was still the lesser amount of pain, but I still nearly died. Needless to say, my water was completely frozen by mile 4. Just like my fingers and my upper thighs.

I missed to take a more telling picture
So here is just the cap.
(You can see it a little bit... the shaking during running
caused it to freeze to to the sides in one thick layer.)

This is how much I hate running in heat/ stuffy air that I would rather freeze to death. I really don't know how other people do it. I know a few runners who live in the southern states where 100% humidity combined with the burning sun brings the heat index up to well above 120F. These people must be the toughest ones on the planet.

In the meantime, Lucy is loving the winter. I mean LOVING it! She can't get enough of this furry, white, cold toy that all of the sudden kept falling from up there.

I can't see! This is awesome!

Maybe if I dive in sideways, I can completely disappear in this inch of snow!

So that's what walking her looks like now. We take 3 steps and then she throws herself onto the ground and rolls in the snow until she is completely tangled up in the leash. It's almost hard not to do the same thing when seeing how much fun she's having.

(We have gotten about 6 more inches of snow since I took this picture... She can barely handle her happiness.)

Monday, January 20, 2014


I'm just checking in to let you know that we are still alive. 

Nick had a medical emergency last week and I am spending most of my time at the hospital right now. 
Please forgive me for not being able to post for another few days. He is scheduled for surgery tomorrow at the crack of dawn and we are all hoping for everything to go well and for him to recover soon. 

Until then, we wait and wish for the best. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday at the vet

Hello and happy sunday to you!

We've had some really busy couple of days here in Berlin. 
Usually, I go to a colloquium at the university from 2-4 every Friday, which leaves enough time for us to take Lucy to the park in the morning. Last Friday, when we were on our way back, Nick noticed that Lucy was peeing blood. To say that we were in shock and very concerned would be an understatement. 10 minutes after it happened, Lucy had an appointment at the vet down the road.

"I don't like this."

The result: our poor little puppy has an extreme case of bladder/ kidney infection. She will eventually be all good again, but it will take a while and since her diagnosis, she has had 3 days of infusions, antibiotics, lots and lots of bowl of water, even more trips to the bathroom. There is a technique to keep pets hydrated by infusing water under their skin. It basically turns them into camels, because the infusion leaves 2 big bumps under their skin and their body absorbs the water as it needs it. Lucy got 9oz of water into each side. You know, to keep the balance.

It's hard to see in this picture, though.

Despite what must be a very uncomfortable condition and treatment, Lucy has been a real trooper.

Nick and I are taking turns to take her outside every 1.5-2 hrs.

Today, she received another infusion and we couldn't believe how busy it was in the waiting room at the vet's office. It seems like Sunday is the day for everyone to go to there and get treatment. Thankfully, we had an appointment and only waited for 45 mins. Others, as we were told, had to wait for 3-5 hrs to be seen.

At least, they had weird fish to look at while we waited.

"What are you looking at?!"

Tomorrow morning, Lucy has to go back to be seen for a check up. Keep your fingers crossed that the whole ordeal with infusions and needles is over.

"I look even more sick with this thing on."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Things are getting serious.

Okay, here it goes. Remember how I've been whining about not being able to run for almost 6 months? (If not, please go back and catch up on every time I complained about it. It will be excellent use of your precious time.)


At the end of November, when we were in Dresden, I did my first steps on the treadmill at the hotel (with the best breakfast ever! Yes, Nick, I have to keep saying it). Since then, I have slowly been adding "distance" (we are talking from half a mile to a mile, then to a mile and a half... You get the idea.) and "speed" (trying to be faster than 15 mins/mile).


On January 1, I ran my first 3 miles without walking breaks (yay!) and since it felt good, I did the same thing again, and again, and again... 

Monday, on the way to school, I thought about the half marathon again. Remember how I signed up for that just shortly before I crumbled my old bones?


Anyhow, I decided to just try to do it and you will have the pleasure of listening to all of my running stories until then - and after.

I'm sticking to one of Hal Higdon's training schedules that is available online here. It was recommended to me by the sweet hungryrunnergirl and I completely trust her judgement, because she is not only an amazing runner, but also an incredibly nice person, who takes the time in order to help idiots like me to find a good training plan.

I will be working with the Novice2 plan, because it seems the best for me at this point. It consists of 12 weeks with a good number of 3 mile runs (my current comfortable distance), long runs on weekends, and cross training. It's overall a very conservative plan that focuses more on being able to finish the race, rather than running a sub 1:30. Being able to finish, that is exactly what I am looking for.


On Sunday, I did a 4 mile run (at the usual slow pace: 9:35, 9:34, 9:10, 9:04). Since the training plan begins with a rest day, I just took that one on Monday. For Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, there are 3mile runs on the schedule, followed by a rest day, and a 4mile run on Saturday. Cross training is on Sunday, which works out great for me.

However, as I go along, I will modify the plan a little bit, I'm sure and keep you posted about the changes I am making - both for you to know and for me to remember what I actually did. I think it may be a good idea to do a weekly post that looks back at the original plan and what modifications I made.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Want to hear something crazy?

Every time I take the train from and to school, I like reading the news on the TV screens that they have in each wagon.

I stole this picture here. 
Today, I learned something quite unsettling. Experts are estimating that there are still 3.000 bombs from WWII somewhere in the ground. Not in Germany. No, all of them are laying somewhere here in Berlin. Of course, we are not talking about anything above 110lbs…!

I think everyone who left one here should come and pick it up. It would make me feel much more comfortable. Those things are dangerous! Oh, and while you are at it, there are only ten thousands of those in the rest of Germany that need to go, too.

I always knew that there were a few left in the ground, but reading that number, while being on the subway… yea. 

Anyhow, this was not the only crazy thing on the news: 

As you may or may not have heard, a UFO disrupted flights at Bremen airport yesterday. It wasn't only seen by upset neighbors, but actually called in by police and caught on the radar.

I KNEW it was all true!

Unfortunately, I have to keep this post short. Last night was a very eventful one in our little universe here. Lucy must have caught a doggy stomach bug… or something. At least, that would explain the huge amounts of vomit that kept coming out of her. Good times. I'm glad that she is feeling better and back to her old divaesque self.

I said no pictures!

Good night everyone!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Here we go again...

… and of course, this morning, the poop-bag had two open sides.

At least, Karma always knows what day it is.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Great Things

My goodness, there has been so much great food over the past two weeks! Of course, most of it was fed to us at my parents' house. They really know how to celebrate the holidays.

To me, one of the best meals was the last dinner there. My parents surprised us by having Raclette with us!! It is normally something we would have on New Year's Eve, but since we were not going to be together that day and because I just love this dinner so much, we had it that evening! No need to mention, I was beyond thrilled!

In case you've never had it: for Raclette, you need an apparatus like the one in above picture. Its a little table grill/oven that is being placed in the middle of the dinner table. Everyone at the table gets a little pan or two (less people equals more pans!) and you put them into the grill from the sides. The top of the grill can be used to keep things warm (in this case potatoes) or to grill additional things (that depends on the type of raclette machine). 

Two pans for the hungry people!

Then you fill the table with all sorts of good things and lots of cheese! There is special "raclette cheese", which melts easily and is extra creamy, but if you don't have access to that, any thicker sliced, buttery cheese would work, too. 

We usually have ham, pineapple, bacon, mushrooms, corn, tomatoes… whatever you can come up with that will taste good covered with cheese and grilled.

I like this best with potatoes that are being cooked in the skin and then peeled at the table. (Hence the bowl with fork and knife in it.)

Then you just fill your pans, cover them with cheese, put it under the grill, and wait for it to be covered in melted cheese.

This was Nick's pan. He was so moderate filling his pan!
I had to forcefully push the food into the pan in order to fit it under the grill. Unfortunately, I missed taking a picture of my creations. Don't be sad. I promise, I will try to take even more pictures of food in the future ;o)

Lets talk about my next favorite thing to do: Running!
As I told you, I didn't have access to a gym at my parents' house, so I was forced to run on paved roads. Hilly paved roads - and it was wonderful! I can't even begin to tell you how much I love running outside. Seriously, I am worried I'll die of a heat stroke really soon, if I continue running on a treadmill at the gym. Every time, I turn purple and my body temperature rises by 40 degrees. It's bad.
Over the holidays, I was forced to run in the freezing cold and loved every shivering second. Before, I was mainly worried that pavement would be too hard on my knee, but now that I started it, I really, really can't go back to the treadmill.

T-shirt and shorts in 32 degrees are making
for the most comfortable running conditions.
(Apologies for the sleepy face.)
To be safe, I am sticking to a 3 mile distance for now. I can still feel my knee after the runs, so that's as much as I want to risk right now. Plus, after not running for almost half a year, I have to begin at the very beginning, which means that I have to build up milage one step at a time.

I was trying to take a picture over my shoulder while running.
The result was so bad, I had to cut out my face.

On January 1, it was the first time that I was able to run 3 miles without having to walk to catch my breath for a minute. About 3 weeks ago, I ran my first 3 miles with walking breaks in 38:00. Now, I am down to running it without breaks in 28:31. At first, I thought that it was one of those lucky days that you have. You know, when your run just feels really easy, and I was convinced that I wasn't able to do it again. (Plus, I was distracted by all the garbage on the road. Evidence of the previous night's festivities and destructions. Maybe that kept my brain focused on something else.)

However, I went out the day after and did the same thing. I can't tell you how much happiness this little victory brings me. Those legs are finally moving again! It will still be a little while until I will be able to do longer distances and I'm pretty certain that the half marathon in March is not a good idea, but there is progress. What else could I wish for?!

Friday, January 3, 2014


As you all know, Nick and I spent New Years Eve in Berlin and I have to tell you, it was probably the craziest celebration we have ever seen.

Aside from setting off as many fireworks as we possibly can, there are a few traditions that Germans practice on this holiday. One of them is that we eat round, filled donuts on December 31st. In northern Germany, they are called "Berliner"and the legend says that they were first made by a baker from Berlin. He wanted to serve in the army of Friedrich the great, but wasn't accepted as a soldier. Instead, he was given a job to cook in the field kitchen, where he created the "Berliner" to give thanks for this opportunity. He shaped them in the form of canon balls and because there was no oven, he fried them in hot oil.

2x egg nog filling, 2x champagne cream, 1x strawberry, 1x plum!

Whether this is true or not, we are all very thankful for someone coming up with this delicious creation! After baking, Berliner are filled with strawberry jam, plum jam, egg nogg, or champagne creme and then covered with chocolate or just plain sugar frosting. Some people make them their own, others (like me) buy them ready to eat at a bakery.

If you are throwing a New Years party and you are offering a good number of Berliners, you can also fill one of them with mustard. That always guarantees for a lot of fun!

As you can see, I know how to cut them perfectly
and leave only the least amount of filling on the other half. 

We finished all of them!

For dinner, many people here eat raclette (I will tell you more about that this week) or fondue. Other families have their own dinner traditions and make things like potato salad and hot dogs/ wieners.
We decided to just make whatever we liked. Hot dogs for Nick, peeled potatoes and sliced salmon for me.

So festive!
We had only bought a few fireworks, but still struggled to fit all of them into the backpacks.

I don't remember when our neighbors started their fireworks, but I heard the first loud bang around noon. By the 8pm, rockets were flying off balconies and quarter sticks were landing in the middle of the intersection in front of the house. I have to admit that I was convinced that by midnight, nobody would have any fireworks lefts.

We left around 9:30pm and went to two different neighborhoods before going to our final destination, the main train station. On our little tour, we met some interesting people who not only traded vodka for two of our rockets, but also wanted to sell us Polish firecrackers, which, let me just tell you, are the loudest thing I have ever heard. I don't even know if they are legal. Once those guys threw them down the subway entrance, we knew it was time to leave.

Fortunately though, they showed Nick how to appropriately set rockets off right from your hand. I'm too attached to my fingers, both emotionally and physically, and passed on this wonderful opportunity to risk my hands, but he loved it. Scary times. Thankfully, nothing happened and everyone went home without losing extremities.

At the train station, we were able to find an amazing spot that allowed us to see the official fireworks at the Brandenburg gate, while still setting off our own fireworks, and watching thousands of people do the same thing. It was really cool.

Happy New Year!

Don't believe that the party ended there. Well, it did for us, but we heard fireworks throughout the next day. People here are unstoppable!

I can't wait to see what the new year has in store for us!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Looking back (at many, many pictures)

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had a terrific night and a great start into 2014!?

Before I share with you how we spent our "Sylvester" (New Years Eve), today, I want to look back at the wonderful, exciting, happy, surprising, and overall amazing past 12 months.


View from our bedroom window in Baltimore on January 25, 2013.

In January 2013, we still lived in Baltimore and had just gotten back from our first trip to Germany together. On January 25, we were expecting a blizzard… and got a dusting and a snow day! 


Not that I know anything about football...

In February, the Baltimore Ravens won the SuperBowl - and even the newspapers at my German home town were filled with pictures of the big celebration. 


March 23, 2013

In March, Lucy and I did a lot of running together, until she told me that 2 miles are the longest that she wants to run next to me on a leash. 


April 2013 was the month when we really started our preparation for the big move. This picture was taken on April 27, the day when Lucy moved into her new "travel home". It was also the day when she and Mr Pig became friends.


May was probably the most life changing month in 2013. When Nick dropped us off at JFK airport, all three of us were quite anxious and excited at the same time. 

On May 27, the day after Nick landed in Berlin, we were already enjoying our new favorite spot to have coffee outside on the balcony. 


June 19, 2013

Lots of exciting things happened in June 2013! Obama came to visit Berlin (on what was probably the hottest day of the summer)…

June 22, 2013

…we stumbled upon the greatest selection of Haribo Candy at the Christopher Street Day - and the weirdest photo bomb happened. 

June 29, 2013

My parents spent their wedding anniversary week near Berlin...

June 29, 2013

… and Nick had his first breakfast egg!


July 20, 2013

I cut my hair off!

July 22, 2013

A picture from my last run before the injury. 

July 22, 2013

One of the best breakfasts I have ever had! (Yes, this deserves an extra mentioning and picture.)


August 1, 2013
 I officially crumbled my tibia bone.

August 17, 2013
At the music-beer-garden up the road from us. 

One of many happy date nights in August!


September was awesome for many reasons! On the 4th of this month, I was able to celebrate Mama's birthday with her for the first time in 6 years!

Just a day later, my nephew was born!! I still haven't met him, but I am hoping to see him in just a few months.

September 13, 2013

Right before flying to Baltimore in September, I had a root canal done. Good times. 

8 hours next to the lavatory on a plane with 200plus people. 

Worst seat on a plane that I've ever had was on the flight on September 18, 2013. 


Flowers waiting form me on October 3, when I got back.

Anniversary breakfast for us! We went to the restaurant in the most famous department store in Germany. If you are ever in Berlin, please go to the KaDeWe!

Awesome discovery later that day: I can dry our laundry 2 blocks down from our house! Just a little carrying and we have dry laundry within minutes!

Anniversary dinner with wine and dessert!

October 13, 2013

Nick left for the U.S. and some sad and lonely times began.


Mama came to keep me company for a few days.

November 15, 2013
A couple of days in Dresden together once Nick got back!

 We even walked up the famous Frauenkirche. (The second German church we climbed.)

Our first (and early) Christmas gift this year: a handmade nativity from my parents!

Once the Christmas markets opened, Nick and I went to as many as possible. This was our first trip and our favorite one for 2013, the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market.


December 22, 2013
The day we left for the holiday celebrations was also the day that we finally lit the fourth and last candle on our Advent-Candle-Tree.

December 30, 2013
A day in Cologne after Christmas!

December 30, 2013

Last Döner/ Lamachun of the year!

December 31, 2013

New Years celebration in front of the main train station in Berlin!