Experimenting with Juice

When A moved in, he bought us a housewarming gift – a beautiful juicer. And over the months we have been experimenting endlessly with juices of every kind, usually the “everything but the kitchen sink kind”. We’ve started to lose direction. Our juices have started to lose their identity.

JuiceNation

JuiceNation

Once a week we make our way to the local farmer’s market, (every Saturday) at Kollwitzplatz and stock up on whatever goodies they may have. Summer is obviously the best time for this as there is an overabundance of berries and fruits and veggies to your heart’s content! We stock up and get home and chow down. Then, whatever is leftover becomes juice.

We used to pick more carefully – selecting flavors and nutrients – then we became a bit more “it’s all gonna mix once it’s down there anyway! So I am here to take back the identity of my juice!

Strawberries from July

Strawberries from July

After much reading and inspiration from friends who “juice” (we will verb that, thank you!) and recipes and ideas and concepts across the internet, I’ve decided to experiment a bit with juice as a meal replacement. Many people advocate for the benefits of detoxing with juice, or juice cleanses (read, 3 days with nothing but the sweet stuff,) but that seems a bit intense for my purposes and I think I could also benefit from the overload of nutrients to replace the otherwise starchy food intake I’ve been known to have.

Juice Number 1 was a search through the kitchen for the right ingredients (anything that’s still good, which might taste good with the other selected ingredients – NOT the kitchen sink at all!) I knew I still had fresh spinach from the market, and I was eager to try out a spinach juice since it’s packed with iron and protein and all sorts of other goodness. So I pulled out the spinach, apples, a peach, wild blueberries, some lime, and fresh ginger root.

The Amanda Spinachberry (or something like that!)

The Amanda Spinachberry (or something like that!)

I used the following quantities (more or less, I didn’t measure exactly!)

  • Spinach (6 Cups – give or take)
  • Apple (2x)
  • Peach (1x)
  • Blueberries (3/4 cup)
  • Lime (1/2)
  • Ginger (Large Chunk)
The end result was delicious, despite it’s rather scary looking deep purple color. It was incredibly healthy (lots of green), sweet (from the apple and peach), and a bit spicey (thank you, ginger!)
Today I replaced breakfast  (about 8:30 AM) with this concoction and only around 11 did I start to feel a bit hungry, so I made some green tea chai to stave off the hunger until lunch. Now I’ll have to run to the grocery store to stock up on goodies for tomorrow’s breakfast!

Diving the Adriatic

What more inspiration do you need?

What more inspiration do you need?

On our third day in Bol, an island off the coast of Croatia, we decided to try our hand at diving in the Adriatic – a first for us both! A is a an Advanced Diver (with about 60 dives under his belt) and I am merely Open Water Certified, this being my 6th dive! For those of you who remember when I learned how to dive last year in Indonesia, and how big of an accomplishment it was for me given how scared I had been initially, I will tell you – I was almost just as scared this time!

Having been “out of the water” for about a year, I started to panic if I would remember all the right signals, how to inflate my BCD (the vest you wear when diving), how to equalize, how to descend. The thoughts were floating through my mind, and the dive school where we were was not particularly helpful in easing my concerns. Since I wasn’t taking the course with them, they assumed I knew all I needed to know and were ready to let me charge in the water and flail! (Okay, not really – they would not have wanted me to fail at diving, but they weren’t quite the coddlers I had gotten so used to at Diversia Diving in Gili Trawangan!)

So I un-confidently put on my wetsuit – full body including hood (apparently the water remains at a cool, even 15°C (59°F) through winter and summer, and the deeper you go the colder it gets, (logically!) I didn’t believe we’d really need it actually (after baking in the sun before we got into the water, but of course once you are about 20 meters down your hands and face are legitimately cold and you are grateful your core is snug and warm. We were putting on the wetsuits when my panic first arose – the suit was too small and tight and I couldn’t figure out if it was the right size or not. It took much help from A to pull and contort to fit until I finally decided maybe the larger size would be easier. It was, but not by much!

Image courtesy of dipndive.com

Image courtesy of dipndive.com

Then we fitted our shoes, fins, masks, and placed our BCD on the air tank, (I forgot how to even do this! The dive master had to help me remember the basics for how the straps went on, etc,) and we walked it all out to the boat. In the boat were about 10 other divers of all different levels of advancement (some at the very beginning and others with years of experience behind them.) A and I were placed in a group with another man from Germany, who had been diving about 7 years, but who wisely chose the “shallower” group as there was more to see and the water was less frigid. As an Open Water diver you really aren’t meant to go below 18 Meters, however we were aiming for 25.

While on the boat A refreshed my memory of the basics, how to inflate and deflate, the symbols for “OKAY” and “Let’s go up”. The dive masters reminded us to tell them when we had 100 Bar and then 50 Bar remaining in our air tanks (you always start out with 200 Bars of pressure and monitor closely as the dive continues to make sure you don’t run out of air – plus, the lower the air in the tank, the harder it is to maintain them, apparently.) So I spit in my mask (to avoid fogging) rinsed it in the salt water, put on my fins, tested out my breathing tubes, and fell backwards into the cold (but clear) water.

I was feeling disoriented, but calmer once I put my face under the water and reminded myself that I could, in fact, breathe and all would be okay. We three divers awaited our Dive Master and began our descent.

Descending upon clear blue waters

Descending upon clear blue waters

I didn’t realize this at the onset, but the Adriatic is not particularly known for it’s abundance of wildlife. Either the water is too cold, (or maybe too salty!) but you tend to see more lobsters, cuddle fish, octopi, and I’m sure nameless other fish lacking in color, but not in diversity. Compared to my previous dive experience filled with brightly colored fish and coral, giant sea turtles, and Nudi Branchs, the diving was somewhat unspectacular. It was, however, a great experience to get back in the water and familiarize myself with the weight of the BCD, the feeling of breathing air from a tank, the sights of fish and water around you, and the knowledge that this is really f*cking awesome!

It took me a while to neutralize my buoyancy and find a place in the ocean where I neither sank nor drifted up. In fact, I probably spent a lot more energy than usual doing just that – swimming instead of floating – and breathing in deep, satisfying breaths. So much so that I was down to 100 Bar in no time. With no watch of my own, I had no way of telling how quickly I was using my air, nor how my fellow divers were doing on theirs, but I let the dive master know and continued on my way. Within what seemed like mere minutes, I checked my air again – 50 Bar. How was time passing so quickly? Or was it… I once again let the dive master know and continued to follow his lead through the ocean, all the while closely watching my air pressure decline – 50, 45, 40, 35, 25. When I was down to 20 I let him know (the PADI books warn you to aim for an exit close to 50 Bar so you don’t risk running out of air and so you don’t damage the tank.) He was calm. I was trying to remain so.

Finally, he must have realized it was time to take me up and alerted the other divers to wait below while he helped me to the surface. I inflated my BCD, a little too enthusiastically, and began to free float to the top. He grabbed my vest quickly and pulled me back down to his level for a minute to decompress – then we floated up together. Once on the surface I could see exactly where were in relation to the island and the boat that brought us there (something about being underwater is so disorienting that you never really know where you are or where you’re going!) He mentioned something I didn’t quite understand involving “run out of air, swim to the boat” and asked if it was clear, I said sure, and he quickly popped below the surface. Wait, what did he say?!

Still a bit confused, I realized I still had about 10 bar to get me safely to the boat (and of course I could float above the surface of the water if I ran our sooner.) Not equipped with a snorkel, I put my face under and continued to use my air, while floating with the current and paddling gently to see if I might be missing anything special underwater. I wasn’t. Well, not if you don’t count other divers below the surface! So I ventured forward and eventually found my way back to the boat.

All in all, the dive was cool. I use the word cool, because it’s the perfect descriptor for the cold water, the relaxed nature of the staff, the fact that I did actually remember how to dive, and that I was officially a diver with more than one location under my belt!

For my next adventure, I’ll look into locations with more sea life and colorful coral. I may just work towards my Advanced Certification sooner than I thought!

At Home Wherever I Go

At Home Wherever I Go

World Travels: Croatia and the Adriatic

I have long been dreaming about a visit to the Croatia, to see the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic and to feel the soft, white pebbles between my toes. Well, in reality, the “soft, white pebbles” are quite painful without sandals, and you jump from your flip flops into the water as quickly as possible, but let’s not ruin the image, shall we?

Living in Berlin has many perks, but one of them is not proximity to the ocean. Granted, the North Sea or the Baltic are a short 3 hours away, but as long as we’re traveling, wouldn’t we enjoy seeing a bit of our neighbors to the south? Croatia has long been hailed for it’s cheap flights (thank you, EasyJet) and relative un-discovered-ness. To be honest, until I began dating a Serbian man and moved to Europe, I’m not sure I could have placed Croatia on the map!

So here we are, 2.5 years in Europe, and I was dying to see what it was all about. We booked our flights direct to Split and took a look around Google Maps and Trip Advisor to see where we should stay. One look at the map showed us the abundance of islands off the coast, and I knew a quick flight was not all we were in for. So we researched buses and ferries and settled on Bol on the island of Brac, just off the coast of Dalmatia.

The flight was easy, just under 2 hours, and then came the fun part – a 40 minute bus ride to town, a long wait in the ferry line, 45-60 minute ferry ride to Brac, and a taxi on the other end for about 45 minutes to our destination. I’m pretty sure you could imagine our relief and excitement when we came through the mountainside (or were those just really large hills?) to see turquoise waters and gorgeous white beaches!

Arriving to the Island of Brac, Croatia

Arriving to the Island of Brac, Croatia

We dropped our things at the hotel, grabbed a couple of towels (and some sun-block) and headed for the beach. It’s still summer here in Europe, which means that the beach was pretty packed, and surprisingly, not just with Croatians. The license plates revealed some had traveled as far as the UK, Russia, Poland, Spain, and even Portugal! So much for Bol being “undiscovered”!

Bol is most famously known for it’s gorgeous Zlatni Rad beach, a triangular shaped beach at the edge of the town’s strip with beautiful white beaches surrounded on both sides by a lovely light blue wading area which quickly drops off to ocean just a few meters out. It’s a haven for sun bathers, wind surfers, kite surfers, and snorkelers – and with good reason.

Image Borrowed from www.zlatni-bol.com

Image Borrowed from http://www.zlatni-bol.com

While we didn’t partake in any of the surfing activities (though we did consider it) we enjoyed the sun and the beach restaurants and bars lining Zlatni Rad. You have your pick of cocktails, burgers, smoothies, crepes, fruit, etc and can spend a glorious day in the sun or shade. When you grow tired of the sun it’s an easy 20 minute walk to the center of the town which is bustling with restaurants of all kinds and, of course, ice cream.

We had found, at least for a long weekend, our slice of heaven and European beaches 🙂

Stretches of White Against a Blue Sky

Stretches of White Against a Blue Sky

I’m Back!

Hello, Dear Readers! I am back with my tail between my legs for abandoning you the last 2 months. I’ll admit, I started to get overwhelmed thinking I should re-strategize and re-focus my blog. That maybe people didn’t want to read about my rambling thoughts, or goings-on, and that I needed a new direction. In the process, I started to think I shouldn’t write any longer until I had found that direction. And I must admit that in the last two months, all I found was that I had stopped writing.

So here I am again – without a pinpointed “new and exciting” direction, but aren’t I exciting enough? If you indulge me, you will continue to read exciting plot twists involving traveling, exercise, fashion, photography, conservation, and attention-grabbing (and right on) complaints about people I encounter.

Stay with me, dear reader, this promises to be good.

When Cardio Fails

Sometimes you think you are in good shape. And you think you exercise enough. And you think that all the running, biking, walking, hiking, jogging you do should be enough. And then you go to your trainer and realize nothing you’ve done so far has adequately prepared you for what they have in store.

Enter: 60 minute sessions with my trainer. As you may remember, some months back I bit the bullet and signed up for a personal trainer. I decided it was time to take my fitness seriously and get a clue about what my body needed. So after the last 6 months of more, or less, attending sessions (there’s never the time, I’m traveling a lot, my trainer doesn’t have appointments available when I want them, [insert other excuses here]) I am in a unique position of having paid for way more time than I’ve actually used, (prepaid, now I know.) So now, over the course of the next few weeks, I have to use up about 600 unused minutes, which means my sessions will jump from 30 minutes to 60.

Regardless of the 23 mile bike ride on Sunday, and irrespective of the 30 minute run sessions I’ve had over the last week, 1 hour with Anja on Monday has me hurting in my sleep. My legs ache, my back aches, my abs hurt, my arms are sore, and it’s painful to sit on the toilet.  What in god’s name has this woman done to me?! (Amiright, gentleman? 😉 )

Ahh!

Ahh!

So now, after limping to the office this morning, I sit anxiously awaiting my next 60 minute lunchtime session to see what’s in store for me. And hopefully I won’t feel quite so badly about my apparently completely inadequate fitness level – despite my current level of activity!

Addicted to Listing

Does writing a good list make you feel as good as it does me? Sometimes, when life is overwhelming, or there is nothing to eat in the fridge, or you adopt new cats and just need to remember every little detail of everything you want to remember, you write a list. I, on the other hand, take any major or minor life event or occurrence and list about it.

Take, for example, my “where to bring my career” list where I list out all possible options for next steps in my career. Or my “what to buy when in the U.S.” list where I write down things I can only ever seem to find at home. Or my “good dinner ideas” list, “books to read”, “places to travel”, “fitness goals”…I think you get the point.

Anything is list-worthy and listable, no event or task too small. And sometimes, even if it wasn’t on a list to begin with, I accomplish something I want to remember so I add it onto one of my many lists, just to feel the satisfaction of crossing it out.

Yes, my friends, I’m a list-o-maniac, or a list-o-holic, if you will. But I suppose there are worse vices one could have.

Do you list about it? Or perhaps you have another quirky vice?

List Central

List Central
P.S. Those are actually 3 different notebooks and two different pieces of paper I actively list on.

Pushing Barriers to Reach Mile 26

So in light of all that’s happening back home with the latest tragedy at the Boston Marathon, maybe a post about running isn’t timely. Or maybe it is. I’m really not sure, but either way, marathons have been on my mind a lot. As has Boston.

My marathon frame of mind is usually just, “I could never do that” or “I don’t think I’d ever want to do that,” but I do have to wonder how many other marathoners once thought that in their lives? It would seem more than a few came out of that conversation on the other end, given that the world’s biggest races around the world have turn outs of 10-15-20,000 people. And those aren’t all the same people at every race, which means there are quite a hell of a lot of marathoners in the world these days.

Twenty six miles. That is just about insane as far as my usual 3-mile body can process. And 3-miles is after I’ve built up for a week or two. Then it becomes my norm and I slowly push my body forward to reach 4 and then maybe 5 miles, never quite reaching a full 6.

Finally reached 4 miles (and a little extra)!

Finally reached 4 miles (and a little extra)!

What is it that stands between me finally reaching 4 miles again (after probably a good 6 months of 2-3 milers) and a marathoner reaching their 26th mile? Is it the pure adrenaline of the moment? Is it discipline? Is it complete control over your mind and body?

I have to wonder if at this stage I am a “I could never do that” kind of person, but perhaps in a few years time I might be a “What a great run, on to the next!” kind of person.

What helps you push through your barriers to get to the next level? Have you ever run a marathon? Or even a half?