Friday, August 30, 2013

What is Happening?!

I am just dropping in to say hello.

Nick and I just watched Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Before you say anything else, let me tell you: yes, it is now okay to watch it. You see, I find it only acceptable to watch any HP movie in the fall or winter months. Can you imagine watching those movies with 130 degrees and bright sun outside?! Of course not!

There is no room for sun and happiness here.
You need scented candles (pumpkin spice is preferred), any sort of cake with cinnamon, hot cider, tea or chocolate, and it should to be cold, dark, windy, and rainy out. Luckily, with the cooler nights coming up (we even had HOT TEA the other afternoon!), it is clearly HP time.

Anyhow, as we are watching, I couldn't help but notice that the plot did not develop as I would have preferred it. Not at all, in fact.

That's right!! The night started off so great (with take out dinner) and then this!?

Can we please talk about this for a minute? What is happening!?! I am less than unamused. How is this supposed to be fun to watch for the next three movies?! I have no idea!!!

...already at it, Ron. Already at it.

For those of you who are just as slow at watching those movies like I am (I have watched the previous parts many, many times - just progressing slowly, you know), I am not going to tell you what exactly is going to happen, but WOW! I did not see this coming and I am sad and angry and I wish I had J.K.Rowling's phone number to tell her what I think about her story.

Yes, Hermione, it is very barbaric indeed!

Since there is no way we will watch another long movie tonight, I guess I have to wait until next weekend (it's supposed to be rainy and cold then). So, It will be a long week waiting for bad weather.

If you have seen this movie, please tell me all is going to be ok!
If you haven't seen it, go do it and then lets talk about this!
If you don't watch Harry Potter... what is wrong with you?! 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Eat More Carrots.

Oh you guys! Do you know those days that just feel like a never-ending Monday? It sure was one of those yesterday. 
On the schedule: gym, acupuncture/ laser, phone calls, 2 libraries in the center of the city, then 2 more libraries south of the city, then printing 50ish articles I need for a presentation. 

When I finally crutched home, I felt like I was dying of starvation and from the 70lbs worth of paper/ books I had in my backpack. 


Luckily, there was one of the most important food groups waiting for me when I got home: cake!

I can't apologize enough for what you are about to see here, but trust me, despite the weird food pictures the outcome is delicious. 

If you want to make a wonderful carrot cake, please do the following:

Grab a teaspoon from your kitchen drawer and a mug out of your cabinet, because those two items will be the only measuring utensils you need for this. 
I always take the largest mug I can find (larger mug = more dough = bigger cake), but any size should do. Maybe. I wouldn't risk it. 

Then you put the following items into a bowl:

2 and 1/2 mugs of shredded carrots 
a 3/4 mug of oil
2 mugs of flour (wheat)
1 and 1/3 mugs of sugar

I used an electric shredder thingy, but of course you can shred them by hand.
I'm just lazy like that. 

Then you add:

1/2 a mug of whole wheat flour

Here in Germany, it is a bit easier to get all different types of flour (the "type 504" in the picture is regular wheat flour, if you have numbers in the 4 digits, it will be a darker, heavier flour. The higher the number, the "darker" the flour). However, I would say that you can get whole wheat flour in most grocery stores in the U.S. and it is really just like our "Weizenvollkornmehl" in Germany. 

After you have thought about all the different kinds of flour out there, you add: 

3 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda (if you don't have baking soda, just add another teaspoon of baking powder)
1/2 a teaspoon of salt

German baking powder (the cheap brand)

Then, you put in the spices that will make your house smell like you are making something really delicious and that will make everyone think highly of your baking skills! Zimt (cinnamon) and Muskatnuss (nutmeg).

1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 a teaspoon of nutmeg

Then, you need 1 mug of plain yoghurt. I bought a big pack, thinking I could just eat the rest with some fruit in it....  but it turned out that it was just enough for my cake. Crap. 

This whole thing fit in my awesome rabbit-mug. 

Yes, that's a rabbit.
Of course, you can use the fat free kind of yoghurt. However, I bought the yoghurt that has 1.5% fat, because it's creamier.

Now, here it comes. You will then need 1/2 mug of ground walnuts (or hazelnuts, or almonds). 

When we lived in the U.S., I tried to find ground walnuts or hazelnuts and failed miserably. 

(I could now tell you about all the sad, sad times I spent at grocery stores when trying to find something that was so common for me to buy in Germany, but that was just nonexistent in the U.S. - but lets not be depressed.) 

If you don't have a German Mama that feels your pain and sends you care packages with ground hazelnuts (and other wonderful goodies), just do this: 

Go to the store, buy a bag of walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, or peanuts, put them in a ziplock bag and hit it as hard as you can with a pan. You can also whack it with your measuring-mug, but make sure you clean it before (!!) ... otherwise, you will end up with lumps of yoghurt/oil/flour/carrots all over your kitchen. (It will happen. Trust me.)

Here is why doing this is better than throwing the walnuts in a food processor:
- the grease in those nuts might turn everything into peanut butter 
- its always good not to bottle up frustration - just let it out!

 And that was it!

Now, if you are one of those lucky people who have a mixer. Go ahead, use it.

I used a spoon.

This is me holding the spoon sideways
- impossible to stir/ mix with this. 
But it turns out: a spoon is not the best thing to use to mix this cake batter properly. 

Much better.
Your carrot cake batter will be just between looking like a dough and looking like a batter. You don't want it to be dry, but if it is too moist, your cake will not bake right. 

Don't forget to grease the baking pan. 

I always use oil and then spread it with a brush or some paper towel. 

When you fill in the pan, you want to make sure that drips of carrot-batter-strings don't end up all over the side your pan (those drips burn to the pan within minutes, stink up your kitchen, and are impossible to clean). 
Those orange little bastards will cause the dough come out of your bowl in one big blob. That's why I just pour it and turn the pan until it is filled. 

I have no idea why this picture is so yellow.

Then you bake it for approximately one hour at 175 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit). 

Depending on your oven, you might need to bake it for longer. Test with a toothpick. If there is no more batter sticking to it, it's done.

In the meantime, find someone to clean up the mess you made. 

"What are you looking at me for?! I'm a dog. I don't help." 
Wait until your cake is completely cooled down and then take it out of the pan. Otherwise, it will break into at least 4 pieces. Or just half the cake will fall out of the pan. (It really happens.)
Then, don't waste any more time and eat it.

In short:

Put all these things into a bowl, mix them, and bake for an hour at 175 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit).
(Check with toothpick if it is done.)

2 and 1/2 mugs of shredded carrots 
3/4 of a mug of oil
2 mugs of flour (wheat)
1 and 1/3 mugs of sugar

1/2 a mug of whole wheat flour

3 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda (or an additional teaspoon of baking powder)
1/2 a teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 a teaspoon of nutmeg
1 mug of plain yoghurt
 1/2 mug of ground walnuts (or hazelnuts, or almonds, or peanuts)

Now, I should finally get some work done.

Happy Thursday!

What was the last thing you read?

Do you prefer to cook or to bake?

Is it still hot and sunny where you are? Or are you already getting the first signs of fall? 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why I Couldn't Write a Blog Post and Don't Look Into the Laser

I can't believe that it's been a week since my last post! On Friday morning, we left for my parents house and didn't get back home until late Sunday night - and I am blaming Mama for putting us all into a food coma, which left me unable to write any posts until just now. 
In all seriousness, when going to their house, it is always a day long feast of all the greatest foods on the planet. We never leave that place without feeling stuffed for days.

Before we left on Friday, I squeezed in another trip to the gym. My leg is not cooperative yet and I am getting really doubtful about running in September. Lets not talk about how devastated I am about this and focus on the gym being a life saver. 

Don't let this picture fool you.
That place was packed!
I am flying to the US mid September and I have no idea what I will do for the weeks I'm there without being able to run and not having a gym close by. Here in Berlin, I can just get on my crutches and be there within 2 minutes of walking - over there in Baltimore, this is not possible.

Another regular appointment on my weekly schedule now is an acupuncture-laser-show. 
As some of you know, I had another appointment with orthopedic doctor last week. Sadly, she prescribed another 20 days of shots and three weeks of crutching. I don't know which of the two is worse, getting shots into my stomach or having to use crutches. I am so done not being able to use my arms at all.


It leaves me feeling useless and frustrated and the longer it takes, the worse I get about using those darn crutches. Poor me. I know!


Anyhow, I am now getting needles stuck into my leg every other day and then they put a laser right above my knee. 

I have no idea how exactly this is healing a broken bone, but it hurts a whole lot more during the treatment - so it must be doing something, right?!

Oh, ja and don't look into the laser! They put those black-out glasses on my eyes (I shot the photo blindly, hence the weird angle) for the duration of this laser-shower. 

Speaking of things that burn your eyes out: 
Let us all pause here and be thankful that we are not Miley Cyrus. Lets be very thankful. 

Happy Tuesday!

Have you ever been on crutches? How much did you hate it? 

Have you ever had ice cream and poured eggnog (with 20% alcohol) over it? 

Did you watch the VMAs?

Do you have any experience with acupuncture? Did it help you?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Beware of Robbers

I am guessing that most of you know that we lived in Baltimore before we moved to Berlin. If you know a little bit about Baltimore, you are probably familiar with the fact that crime is not an unusual thing there. There are many stories I could tell you about situations that made me feel anything but safe. Just watching the Baltimore news is disturbing - and so are the statistics on crime.


Since coming to Berlin, there were so many times when Nick and I would say to each other: we could never do this in Baltimore! The other night, I took the subway at 11pm to grab take-out for us - all by myself, while Nick took Lucy for a walk. This is nothing that happens often, and it was only one stop I had to be on the train, but it would still have been unthinkable for us 4 months ago. In Baltimore, we only used public transportation when we went to a baseball game in the middle of the day, and we only took the light rail, and only then, because we knew that there would be mostly fans on the train.

Needless to say, when I went running, I only ran in the daylight, and on specific routes. Not through neighborhoods, only on busy roads, and only around campus where I knew that there is security. Sometimes, I would tie in a lap around the track or just run all over campus.

A few days ago, we heard that there were a number of robberies in Baltimore, which targeted runners in particular. You may have seen or heard it on the news as well. This got me thinking about safety again and with the darker seasons coming up, we should probably remind ourselves that there are a few things we can do to prevent becoming a victim of a crime. Even if you live in a "safer" place than Baltimore, I think it is important to always be aware of the possibility of something happening and not just assume safely, like I am sometimes tempted to do, here in Berlin.

That's very good, Emily.

If you are like me and don't know any self-defense moves, these tips might be helpful:

1.) Don't run with your head phones on and your music turned all the way up.
Most of the time, you will see me wearing only one earbud. I can't run without music, but I still want to be aware of my surroundings. Not only in order to notice, who might be sneaking up on me to murder me, but also to be able to hear cars and other deadly vehicles.

2.) Don't always run the same route.
This can be tricky if you are new to the area, but try to change it up a little bit. This way, you will not only make it harder for stalkers to track you, but you will also be more aware of what is going on around you, because it is a "new" surrounding to you. Always running the same exact roads/ paths, may give you a (wrong) feeling of safety and leave you spacing out and day dreaming during your run. But you want to be alert at any given moment to be able to escape a possibly dangerous situation.

3.) Wear bright clothes.
Not to make potential robbers/ attackers/ murderers more aware of you, but make it easier for drivers and helpful people to see you. If you are waving for help while wearing bright, neon colors, you are much more likely to be seen. Also, when running in the city, you want drivers to see you between everything else that they are paying attention to.

4.) Don't wear expensive phones/ iPods or credit cards and cash on you.
Well, I don't have a cheap mp3 player and I don't own a Garmin (yet! maybe in 20 years when I have a job).
So I am guilty of taking my phone with me. It tells me where I am, how far I have run, my splits, my pace, and it plays music. I wear it in my arm pocket, where I also store my keys, and a piece of paper with my name and my emergency contact. You can also put that information on a wrist band, which I always thought was quite handy - in case someone steals your arm pocket with your phone.

5.) Run on busy roads and against traffic.
This is something I do 98% of the time. Even here in Berlin, you will see me speeding trotting along the biggest and busiest roads. I love window shopping while I run, or look at all the sights, and watch people, so this is no big deal for me. Plus, I get scared easily and the running against traffic has always been really helpful with that, too.

6.) Run with friends.
I don't have any friends, so this isn't something I can actually do.
However, especially when you prefer running on trails, take a friend with you. Please don't run alone with nobody else around. Too much happens on trails and in parks.
I would say, run with a dog, but not all dogs are made for running (specifically long distance). So it depends on the breed of your dog - and of course, if you have one.

7.) Be armed.
If it is legal for you to have it, go get some pepper spray (or something similar). You will hopefully never have to use it, but just the thought of having it and being able to defend yourself, may make you (and your significant other) feel better.
You could even use hair spray, if you can aim well in stressful situations. (I have recently sprayed my eye with hair spray and trust me, it hurts and it will leave you blind for a good 3-4 minutes.) I know runners, who take knives or other sharp utensils with them, but I would just hurt myself with those in my pocket.

These are just a few tips based on my little experience. Some may be more useful than others and I am sure that there are a few things I completely missed to mention. So, please share your thoughts on the topic and add anything to the list that you think is important to include!

Happy and safe running, everyone!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Banana-Cake-Bread-Arm-Workout and How Not to Clean Your Phone

Each morning when I get up, I am blown away by the date on the calendar. What is happening?! I swear, when I was a kid, days were at least 48 hrs long and there were no less than 60 days in a month.

Anyhow, an incredibly helpful tip from me to you, because I am now an expert in this.
If you want to clean your iPhone, rinsing it in the sink is not the solution.

I have tried to do that a couple of days ago and it didn't work well. Luckily, we had the best quality 0.49 Euro Aldi rice at home and once my phone spent a few hours in a bed of grains, everything was well and fully functional again. The phone, too. (I know, most hilarious joke ever.)

I save lives. 
So if you ever want to give it a try and wash your phone, make sure to dump it in rice right after to make sure it dries up nicely. (According to Nick, "Minute Rice" works even better - I have yet to try that and will get back to you once I did that.)

Over the past few days, I have turned all sorts of housewifey.
No, I have no idea what's happening. I have made dinner twice in a row and today was my first time baking a "cake" since we came to Berlin. Most disturbing about this is that the dinner was not frozen pizza. It was actual dinner. From scratch! With vegetables, and meat, and salad, and all!

"wtf are you doing?! You are scaring me.
Please put that whisk down!"

Today, despite the fact that my food pictures are terrible, I would like to introduce my arm-workout-banana-cake-bread to you. It is the hardest biceps work I have done in a week and I have been sore ever since.

We don't have a mixer. Our kitchenaid is in storage, 86 gazillion miles from here. So, all I have to mix and stir things are a fork and a whisk.

Banana bread in a cake pan:

First, you throw 2 cups of flour and each 1 teaspoon of baking soda and baking powder in a bowl. (I only had baking powder it worked just fine.)
You should sift these dry ingredients. I didn't, but I am sure there is a good reason why every cake recipe tells you to do it. If you like cinnamon in your banana-cake-bread, you can add .5-1 teaspoon to this dry mixture.

This is what it looks like when I do it. All lumpy.
Then, you crack 2 eggs into a bowl, add 1 cup of sugar, and 1/2 a cup of oil and beat this mixture with a whisk a fast as you can.

I have to mention something: I found a conversion chart that helps you "translate" cups into grams. Unfortunately, I can't read numbers well enough, and while I used the correct amount of flour (280g), I put in only about half of the actual amount of sugar. According to this website, 1 cup should have been 200g of sugar, but I only used 120g. I just went with the "dry goods" table, but there is actually a "granulated sugar" chart. The more you know...

It should have little bubbles and a creamy eggnog-color 
However, the 3 bananas I used were both large and over ripe. So they added quite an amount of sweetness. If you want, I am sure you can just cut out some of the sugar anyways. (aka, if you screw something up, just make it the rule.)

3 bananas mashed with a fork. 

Then, you add 3-4 mashed bananas to the sugar-oil-egg-mix and blend everything together. If you like  (and have it at home), this would be the perfect time to add some vanilla (about 1-1.5 tablespoons)

 Now, you can already add your dry flour-baking soda-baking powder(-cinnamon)-mix. It will get really hard to mix everything at once, if you only use a whisk. Plus, if you do this, you might end up with some ugly flour lumps that will not be so delicious when you bite into them after you baked the whole thing.
So, I added the flour-mix in about 4 portions.

This is what it looks like after everything is added.
My pictures, again, are pale and don't look great, but I assure you that in person, it looked more yellow and like actual batter.

Then, you pour the whole thing into a pan. It really doesn't matter what shape the pan it is. I have made this recipe in a bread pan, or a muffin pan before, but right now, I only have a "Topfkuchen Form"-pan. So I used this. 

I double checked a few times and 350 degrees fahrenheit are about 175 degrees celsius. For those with an electric oven: I used "Ober-/ Unterhitze"(top and bottom heat), not "Umluft"(circulating air). If you have an oven that runs with gas, don't worry about these settings. 

Watch your creation with caution. 

 Once it looks somewhat edible: take it out. (use oven mitts!)

After you took it out, you have to be really strong to not start eating it right out of the pan. Best thing to do is to leave the room or house and return, once it has cooled down completely.


Then you slice it up and eat the whole thing in one sitting.

Guten Appetit!

Here is the whole again without pictures: 

2 cups of flour
1/2 cups of oil
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
3-4 ripe bananas
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs

you can add:
.5-1 teaspoons of cinnamon
1-2 teaspoons of vanilla

Bake at 350F for about 60mins.

(Check with a toothpick if it's done.)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Minor Victory Monday

Es ist Montag! It is Monday!

And because mondays can be terrible, lets focus on the minor victory of the day!
What was yours?

Mine was a victory over my inner sloth. I had a really rough time getting up this morning and I laid in bed trying to come up with excuses not to go to the gym (you know, when you are checking if you are feeling absolutely healthy and are trying to find a little thing that might give your inner sloth an excuse to stay in bed) - but then I went! And after I got there, it wasn't even that bad anymore.

This is what I did:
30 mins. on the bike (with a very low resistance setting)
3 x 15 reps at the chest press with (20kg)
3 x 15 reps at the "Ruderzugmaschine" (20 kg)
3 x 15 reps at the reverse butterfly (10kg)
3 x 20 reps at the abduction machine (35kg)
3 x 20 reps at the adduction machine (35kg)
3 x 15 reps at the back trainer (no weights - yet!)
3 x 25 reps sit ups (if you want to call them that)

The whole thing took me about an hour and ten minutes and then we had a big breakfast! Oh yes! Totally worth working up an appetite.

I should really start getting more creative when it comes to my breakfast choice. I am eating the same thing every morning. Maybe I should get a different colored jam!? I just really like this red homemade jam ("Johannisbeere-Banane" - thank you, Mama!) and even when I look at different kinds at the store, I end up not getting any, because I am 100% certain it will not be as good as this one.

And because she is awesome, I am showing you what Lucy has been up to.

This is her wandering around the bed when I am sitting there, reading for my next paper. Every. Single. Time. She is a petting addict.

"can you pet me?"
"pet me.... pet me... pet me... pet me... pet meeeeee"

"Hey! I already came closer! Now Pet Me!"
"Peeeet meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"

"Come on! Put that hand on my head!"

"I wooon!"
Happy Monday!