Tag Archives: Berlin

The Eternal Search for Delicious Brunch

I am eternally searching for the best restaurants in Berlin. The latest, greatest, most delicious, most undiscovered place where I can sink my teeth into something divine. Berlin happens to be a happening brunch town, if only you can find the right places to go. Sundays offer up all-you-can-eat buffets to dine to your heart’s content, but where is it worthwhile spending such a luxurious period of your life? There are, of course, the staples (or at least my staples!):

  • Anna Blume for their beautiful brunch tower and over-sized tea mugs
  • Pasternak for their creative and unique buffet filled with Russian goodies (many of which remind me of my grandmother’s cooking) and mouth watering desserts
  • Frida Kahlo which tends to disappoint during all other mealtimes, but they seem to have gotten the Sunday brunch buffet filled with eggs, rice, beans, chicken, pancakes, etc right!
  • Barcomi’s which has your standard bagels affair with delicious dessert options.
  • Nalu Diner for a typical American breakfast complete with diner pancakes, bacon, eggs how you want them, and killer hash browns.

But say you want to take a step away from the norm…where would you go? Inputs welcome.

 

Fitness First

So even though I haven’t been writing about it much, my fitness experiments have continued undocumented. I more or less stopped going to the trainer – really, my 6 month contract ended and although I was getting a lot of benefits and seeing (at least core strengthening) results, I didn’t want to pay the money to be stuck inside a gym during the most beautiful summer months. I’d rather save it up for when it’s gray and miserable out and I need the sauna to feel human.

So my poison of choice? Running and Biking. Two things I am already very familiar with. The added benefit? A likes to do them too! He’s back on the running bandwagon and motivated to push himself hard, which of course pushes me even harder. While I normally give in to “feeling tired” or “I’m not in the mood” knowing that he’s been out pounding the pavement – or that when I go back home we have a run scheduled for the evening – always motivates me to push a little bit further.

I’ve always believed I wouldn’t do well with an exercise partner, or that I hated going to the gym with a friend – mostly because I didn’t like to be tied to someone else’s time constraints, or didn’t want to feel pressured to do more or less than I was comfortable with. While these things are still somewhat true, (I run out of breath because I work myself up to keep up the pace,) it’s been totally motivating to have someone by my side to push me a little bit further and to hold me accountable for what I say I’ll do.

Another bit of motivation? We signed up for a 10k in Berlin in October. Nothing like the thought of panting and crawling along a race path gets me motivated to get my butt moving and start training hard. I don’t need to be a winner at the end, but making it through without losing composure is definitely high on the 10k priority list!

So the fitness conundrum continues and new experiments are undertaken. Does anyone else have as many start and stop bursts of motivation as I do?

Motivation that Wanes in Winter Grays

Inspiration comes and goes and two things affect it more than anything for me, at least at the moment. 1) My travel/work schedule and 2) the weather. What are the things affected by my lack of inspiration? Well this list can go on and on – from simply styling my hair or putting careful thought into my outfit for the day, to getting enough motivation to hit the gym a few times a week (or at least more than once a week!) to having the motivation and enthusiasm I always want to feel when writing my blog.

Lately I’ve been on the go quite a bit. I was traveling for work for 3 weeks between February and March and came back only to leave again for a long weekend in Stockholm. I’m back in Berlin, but not for long, as a number of upcoming trips will keep pulling me away time and again. And it has to be said that the weather in Berlin this winter has been nothing short of brutal. Endless months of gray skies take their toll on a person’s mind and energy. It’s hard to keep motivation when the weather never clears and every morning is as gray as every evening.

Endless Gray

Is there light at the end of the gray?

So where do I get hit the most? With my ability to get off my butt and get to the gym for that “I feel great!” feeling. It simply does not come when everytime I look out the window and think, “I’d rather be curled up on the couch under a cozy blanket with a book”.  Add a bit of travel messing up your schedule to the mix and you’ve got yourself a pretty good excuse to not work out and to stay away from the gym!

So today, as I sit at my desk debating if it’s time to leave the office, but secretly wanting to stay just a little bit longer to have a good enough excuse not to make it to the gym once again, (well I had to work late, it was impossible to find the time!) I know in my heart it’s time to get back.

While spring may not have come yet (my god, it’s already April! Give us a break on the bleak, gray skies and chance of snow!) it is just around the corner and I, for one, want to be prepared!

Anyone have any good tips for how to keep up the motivation even when the weather’s getting you down? How to you fight through the laziness and weariness to keep fit?

Protect Your Sunset

Sunset on Pappelallee

One of my favorite things to do with images I’ve shot, is to upload them for the world to see. I’ve always felt a little strange about this, (especially given how Instragram and Facebook have tried hard to put in the fine print that they really own all those great shots you’ve loaded of you and your friends.) Despite my attempts at coming up with a clever way to stamp my name on my work, thus protecting it from the photo thieves, my teacher finally gave me the simplest solution – create a paintbrush with my name on it! Who knew?

So in class last week we experimented with different forms of (c) Amanda Parker Photography and such, and finally found a classy, yet simple enough, modification of it. This is still a work in progress, as is everything, but I’m still excited I finally know how to do it the right way, without ruining the original image.

I also learned that when I upload photos into Bridge –> Photoshop (straight from my camera) that I can upload all the copyright information straight away in the metadata of each image. So regardless of whether or not I stamp my name on the outside no one else can legally take and re-print my image without having the true photographer’s (that’d be me) info loaded in every shot!

That being said, I give you sunset from my balcony, overlooking Berlin to the slightly south and west. It was a perfect night for my beginner’s eye as I happened to walk out onto my balcony at just the right moment to see the breathtaking hues of pinks, purples, oranges, and reds scattering the sky. I had my camera on hand, as I always do these days, and snagged about 100 different shots from different angles, trying to determine what the best shot would truly be to capture such a beautiful sunset.

Even though I know photographers don’t generally admit this, or maybe don’t like to, I took the images I made and combined 3 different ones within photoshop to give me the chance to enhance the colors of the sky, and brighten the buildings below to really make the shot pop.

Another Dose of Amanda’s Photography

 

River_HDR6

Here’s a nice shot along the River Spree in Berlin. It was a cold and gray day last Saturday as I walked with my friend and her dog, but the water was calm, aside from the ducks who were brave enough to dive in looking for food. The image is still a work in progress, but the fluffy clouds balanced out the harsh contours of wires and trees, and the strangely dark water. A perfect example of a Berlin winter day.

 

Nesting

I’ve always been a bit of a nester. Sometimes it can be hard when moving from home to home, but I always try to make my space feel like my own, even if that means sticking a few photos of family on the wall to complete the illusion.

When moving to Berlin I brought all my furniture from the U.S. More specifically, all my furniture from my NY studio apartment, (which was hand picked by me over the course of a few months to find the perfect blend of dark woods that complemented each other against the backdrop of a purple wall.) Fast forward about 5 years to my beautiful Berlin home, complete with its very own purple wall, and a couple of additions along the way (thank you, IKEA, for inventing the Billy bookshelf!)

With my new roommate just moving in, we are struggling to find the perfect balance of storage and space, without everything looking so cluttered and chaotic. While we haven’t quite hit our stride yet, we have begun a certain type of nesting of our own, and I don’t just mean the photos and paintings I’ve created tons of holes in the wall for, but growing our family…green!

I am pleased to present Carlos!

The newest addition to our family!

The newest addition to our family!

Carlos is a beautiful 3.5-4 foot tall ficus tree who likes to be sprayed daily, watered bi-weekly, and kept in the sunshine, but away from the wind. While trying to be good plant parents, we do our best to meet all his needs and he seems to have stopped shedding leaves  in response. Carlos is just the beginning of our hopefully growing plant family, as we plan to invite many of his brothers, sisters, and cousins to join us in due time.

Delicious Home Cooking

[Please be warned: Graphic Images of Meat to Follow]

I am lucky to have a live-in Chef in my home now. Well, I should say, the grandson of a chef who happens to love cooking. Either way, I’m lucky!

What does it mean to live with someone who loves to cook? No more “spaghetti is all I have time or energy to cook” days, no more sandwiches for dinner (when I’ve already had it for breakfast and lunch,) and no more picking at random things all evening hoping it adds up to a meal.

It’s not only him that gets the cooking bug, but having him here makes me want to cook more too. It is more inspiring to prepare food for two, and my adding-too-much-butter-to-everything-I-bake skills are vastly improving. (Sounds a bit like my previous post about perfecting the art of, well, anything! The more you do it, the better you get!)

So after seeing some delicious looking steak at the grocery store last week, and realizing we had fresh mushrooms and brussels sprouts left from the farmer’s market, Aleks and I put together a delicious steak dinner for two in about a half hour or less!

IMG_2193

Lightly salted, olive oiled, and peppered steaks set to sizzle alongside some lightly steaming brussels

Sautéing the mushrooms...in butter. Mmmm!

Sautéing the mushrooms…in butter. Mmmm!

Perfectly browned brussels with a touch of butter

Perfectly browned brussels with a touch of butter

Nothing like some good grill marks!

Nothing like some good grill marks!

Voila! Dinner is served!
Voila! Dinner is served!