Sunday, 31 August 2014

Appreciation Sunday #12 [Reconnecting and Refueling]

After the last Appreciation Sunday turned out to be a horrible rant about the world being all dark and bad, this week I had some time to reconnect and find a bit of new optimism.

First of all, I went out on Monday to visit one of my best friends one last time, because as I am writing she is already in Munich to start a new chapter of her life. We ate, we laughed, we chatted. It was perfect. The next day was a very chilled out evening watching films with another friend. You know? The one who sadly had to cancel our meeting the week before, but now I was even happier to see her again.

However the most amazing thing that happened, was that I got to see my best friend from elementary school whom I hadn't seen in about four years. We went out for a few drinks and basically chatted the night away having a really great time. In the end we came to the conclusion that we have to do this again as soon as possible.

In elementary school we were almost inseparable, but after our transfer to high school we somehow lost sight of each other even though we were in the same class. There was no big fight or argument we simply developped in different ways. A few weeks ago we started writing each other again on Facebook and then on Saturday we finally met.

Growing up is a scary process, but I have to say that sometimes it is amazing to see how we constantly change - how we slowly grow up. Both of us had to laugh about all those little things that bothered us in the past. They seem small now, but back then they meant the world to us.
I really do hope that we will be able to somehow rebuild this strong bond that we used to have in the past.

Apart from doing well at socializing, this week was a culinary success as well:
Smoked trouts, selfmade granola, an amazing pepper soup and pizza
And how could I forget about my tasty joghurt with oats, bananas red currants??
This week turned out to be a lot better than the one before and it made me realize that after particularly bad times things will eventually get better and you will appreciate them even more. So, in case you are finding yourself in a slump right now I encourage you to stay strong and try to find silver lining in every single moment of your day.

What are you grateful for this week?

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Skincare Routine for Lazybones [Night time]

First of all, I have to say that I generally love skincare. I'm always excited when I get to try out a new product, but at the end of the day when I just want to go to bed and watch one more episode of Hannibal things have to go quickly without many steps.
So, this is the routine that I go through on days when I really need the whole shabang.

Removing the Make-Up
I don't wear make-up everyday but when I do I need a product that gets the job done easily. At the moment I am using the Camomile Cleansing Butter from The Body Shop.
I would not say that this is my favourite make-up remover. Even though it works very well with eye shadows and powders, it gets a bit difficult when it comes to mascara.

Here I usually get to choose between two options. The first one is a cleanser with a gel consistency that foams up nicely, when I apply it (for example my Skin Food Honey & Black Tea Jelly Foam) I use it on days when I feel like my skin needs a deeper cleanse especially when I wore more make-up than usual on that day.
My second option would be a creamy cleanser, that leaves my skin feeling nourished and soft, because sometimes I just need that little bit of extra moisture.
In general I don't think that it is necessary to invest in high end cleansers - at least for me. They are simply a medium to wash away dirt and old skin cells. The main work is done by the products that stay on the skin for a longer time. 

This step is optional, because honestly: I often forget it. This step isn't even necessary, but when things get reall fancy in the bathroom my routine would not be complete without a nice smelling, alcohol free toner to finish up the cleansing process.

At night a rich moisturizer is the way to go for me. For a few weeks I've been using the Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum-In-Oil, which I have been extremly satisfied with. The smell is pleasant and I need only a little bit. Afterwards my skin feeld nourished and soft.
 And because I am not getting younger each day, I also put on a bit of eye cream. Here I like to use something more moisturizing as well. To prevent premature wrinkling, you know? And because my eyes deserve it after a long day of being glued to the computer screen.
Current Eye Cream: Innisfree Green Tea Seed Eye Cream
A bit of lipbalm to finish it off and I am ready for bed. My favourite for my often dry lips is the Aloe Lip Care from The Body Shop (what else,right?).

This routine is something that works for me and my combination skin, so every product might have a different effect on you.On some days I even skip this routine completely and go to bed without even washing my face. Gross, right? It is a true blessing, that my skin is so forgiving.

What are your favourites for a good night time routine?

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Appreciation Sunday #11 [Real Life Strikes Back]

 Original Photo taken from Unsplash
Yes, I know. These weekly posts are supposed to be something positive and life-affirming. I want to use them as a device to remember all the good things that happen, because I do not want my mind to be overpowered by all those negative thoughts that sometimes tend to go crazy inside my head.

However this week felt rather strange. First of all on Tuesday I started getting back to work which is not a particularly bad thing. At the moments it's getting a little bit busy, but nothing major. But still just staying at home in my pajamas the entire day always seems like a far better option.

The second thing was a lack of social life this week. I was supposed to go the gym with a very good friend whom I haven't seen for a few weeks now, but she got sick, so we had to cancel it and then there is another friend who is about to move to Munich next week.
We will see each other tomorrow, but it will be the the last time for quite a while
Even though I love being by myself and even though I know that there are people who care about me, I can't help but feel lonely recently.

Ironically he main low of this week was yesterday on my cousin's wedding.
The wedding itself was wonderful and I was really happy for her and her husband, but in all honesty I don't really fancy these kind of family gatherings. It is so awkward when you see these people maybe once every year and you don't know what to talk about.
I see them change and sometimes I ask myself: "What about me? What will become of me?"
That's when I start to feel afraid. People ask me what I am going to do after university and the only  answer I can give them is: "I don't know."
Being 23 and having nothing figured out sucks already, but once they give you this pitying look, it's just too much.

So, most of the time I gravitated between two acitivities: Drinking and locking myself up in the ladies' room being my pathetic self. Now I'm having a well deserved headache, but at least there was better music in the ladies' room compared to the music at the party.

There was this one moment when my stepdad talked to one of those guys and suddenly he told him that I study Japanese and apparently this man knew a few phrases, because he had worked with a Japanese company for a while.

So, he said a few basic sentences and I answered him and when he suddenly changed to French I just followed him. He seemed to be quite surprised, still a know it all, but surprised. When he left my stepdad hugged me and told me that he was proud of me.
At that moment I should have felt proud too, I
guess, but I didn't. I knew that, what I had said was nothing special, nothing to brag about.
Also, I don't like people to talk about me. Or to me.
I didn't want to talk. I just wanted to be by myself, so I didn't have to be confronted with my lack of social skills.
We left at half past 2 in the night.

While I doubt that there is anyone who read this entire text (which I can fully understand) I still want to apologize for all this negativity, but sometimes life (i.e. shit) happens.
Sometimes one doesn't feel like being all happy, healthy and active. Sometimes we need to be allowed to feel a bit miserable in order to feel better again.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Surviving University Fuss-Free

University has been the best time of my life so far and while this phase is very liberating I think there are a lot of stumbling stones as well, especially for those who are just starting out, because there are so many new aspects in your life you have to balance out.
But after over three years of unversity-experience I have finally managed to establish a lifestyle that works pretty well for me and my needs.

 Budgeting: To me money has always been one of the major issues, mainly because there are a lot more people who want to rip my money out of my pockets: rent, food, car, university, parties, clothes etc.
So, what helped me the most was to sit down and write down my income as well as my regular outgoings. According to that I determined a budget for every week which I can spend on groceries and hobbies. Furthermore I write down all of my spendings in a little book so I don't lose sight of my financial situation.
Get Moving: Oh, the freshman 15. Luckily I was never really troubled by this dreadful phenomenon, but I noticed that it is a lot harder to maintain a healthy lifestyle once your PE teacher doesn't force you to run ten times around the block anymore. Honestly I enjoyed not having to work out for a while, but trust me, you will need some kind of equalisation for sitting on your butt all day.
It doesn't matter if it is just thirty minutes a day - go out and do something, find some kind of physical activity that you enjoy.
Personally, I enjoy Cassey Ho's Blogilates-videos a lot as well as the Tone It Up routines.
Aside from these two fitness gems Yoga with Adriene is a great channel to learn some yoga basics as well as fun vinyasas.
My third recommendation for working out at home are the videos from Jessica Smith TV which include great walking work-outs as well as some toning without a lot of equipment.
So, no excuses, okay?

Food Essentials: My very first basic food would be frozen veggies. "What? Are you kidding me?" I know, what you think, but read on first. If you have access to a freezer in your apartment or dorm, do yourself a favour and buy some frozen veggies (I love a mixture of cauliflower, broccoli and carrots). They are easy to store and make sure that you always have something healthy on hand - even if you only use them to upgrade your ramen (another handy food to keep actually).
 Secondly bananas are always great to have on hand. Wether you are craving something sweet and filling during your all-nighter or you want something to add to your porridge to give it more texture and flavour.
Which brings me to my third food essential: Oats. Just like frozen vegetables they are easy to store and they arefull of good nutrients that keep you full and satisfied. Use them for porridge, add them to your yoghurt or make your own granola/muesli. Oats are always a good idea!

Get Your Shit Done: One should always practice what one preaches, so I am not going to tell you to write your essays etc. right away. Instead I found it helpful to set myself some deadlines for more complex assignments in order to not forget about them. Also I try to get smaller ones out of the way as soon as possible, meaning the same day or the day after. Otherwise I just end up doing them on the last day possible.
So: get your shit done and then have some fun, right?
Take Your Time: Do not start your first term stressing yourself out with too many courses and commitments. University is also the time to explore yourself and what you want from your life, so take some time to actually listen. This course is not your cup of tea after all? Screw it and start something new. You are still young and should make use of the possibilities you are given.
After rushing through my bachelor's degree, I decided to extend my master's degree, so I can manage work and uni without risking a burn-out.

Find A Passion: Apart from university it is always nice to find a reliable hobby, that will take your mind off of your daily duties and help you procrastinate a little bit when you need it. To me rediscovering writing turned out to be my personal saviour. Procrastination is permitted and every once in a while you should allow yourself to fully indulge in a whole evening of gaming, reading or binge-watching TV.

Don't Forget Your Roots: It is an exciting thing to move away from home, maybe move in woth some friends or even manage your own household, but one should never forget family and friends at home. Call them or send them a message every once in a while just so they know how you are doing.

These are my personal essentials to happy, balanced life at uni. Of course there is always room for improvement. I still love to procrastinate way too much and I am not always very thorough with my studies, but in the end I am quite satisfied.

What are your tips to get through university life?

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Appreciation Sunday #10 [It's good to be home]

My holiday with the family is now officially over.
Right now I am sitting at my desk in little apartment in Bonn and only another day separates me from the restart of my regular life.

After two weeks it is certainly a good feeling to be home, to sleep in your own bed and be surrounded by the things you are accustomed to. But I am so glad that I got the chance to go on this trip together with my parents and the pugs.

While the first week was packed with a lot of walks and loads of activities the second one was rather laid-back. We visited Neuschwanstein castle, walked around the Alpsee at night (which was loads of fun!) and went to the spa.

Actually our stay at the spa might be my personal favourite of this second week.
Eight hours filled with transferring between so many different saunas and treatments and a good meal in between. Afterwards I felt so relaxed, my skin was über-soft and the overall feeling of pure satisfaction filled my soul.
In case you ever come to Schwangau, you have to visit the "Königliche Kristalltherme"!

Other than that we visited the neighbouring city of Füssen, which turned out to be a very successful trip, because I managed to pick up two books from 1914/15 for 3€ - major win!
The city itself is not very big, but it has a lovely old city centre and is definitely worth a trip or two.

Füssen: Home of a lot of second hand stores and lovely, little houses
By the way, the Austrian border is almost just around the corner.
A forest adventure park near Füssen, the mountains in the back already belong to Austria
On the whole I sure hope to come back to Bavaria maybe next year, because to me it was a perfect family-holiday: no stress and no fuss.

 Also, I finally started watching the series "Hannibal" and wow, this is some good stuff!
Dark, intelligent, beautifully shot and Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter is pure perfection.
Can't wait to finish this week off with two or three episodes of this.

What are you grateful for this week?

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

A Guide to Neuschwanstein castle

 Yesterday was the day. Finally.
The day we visited Neuschwanstein castle and first of all let me say:
Oh my God, people. People everywhere!

It was something we expected because of the popularity of the place and due to the fact that we have been staying in Hohenschwangau for over a week by now, but it is something completely different once you are directly inside of this whole tourist-madness.

The castle itself is truly astonishing and it is a pity that Ludwig II. could finish only one third of it before his sudden death. The walls and ceilings are all elaborately painted and the furniture in his personal chambers is so detailed. Looking at all this and considering the fact that everything was still in it's original state was even more amazing. My mother found it unbelieveable that someone would build something that extravagant just for himself.
However as beautiful as it is, there were a lot lot things I noticed along the way which might be helpful for those of you who want to come and visit Neuschwanstein. So, here is my advice on visiting Neuschwanstein:

1. Being "too early" is impossible:
Something I would recommend everyone to do is to make a reservation for your tour. We arrived at the ticket center before 8 o'clock in the morning without a reservation and had to wait a bit longer than half an hour. Shortly after 8 o'clock place was already overflowing with people.
So, be extra early and make a reservation (you will stand in a special, shorter queue). If you arrive that early you will also be able to get a parking space which are very rare.
Some people park at the side of the road, but you might get a parking violation ticket for doing that. 
2. Do the extra-walking:
You will be given the possiblity to take a carriage-ride or the bus to get up to the castle, but honestly? I don't think it's worth it. You will most likely have to wait a long time, so in the end it might not be that much faster. Furthermore you will miss out on the beautiful nature.
3. On expectations:
While the castle is really gorgeous, I have to admit, that you are not given a lot of time to appreciate it. A new tour starts every 5 minutes which leads to the fact that you are being rushed from one room to the next. If you already know a lot about Ludwig and his castles, you should stay at the end of your group. Otherwise you will only see people and nothing of the rooms.
There is also the possibility that the next group already enters the room before you are done looking around. 

4. Keep up the fun:
I'm not gonna lie, visiting Neuschwanstein castle is stressful especially if you come from far away just to see it, but please, never forget that this is also supposed to be fun and with careful preparation you will be able to enjoy it. After visiting the castle you can sit down for a drink, maybe take a walk to the Alpsee and get some rest. Afterwards you can visit the castle of Hohenschwangau or the museum. Both of them are worth seeing, too and less overcrowded.

 If Ludwig II. knew what people made of his precious castle, I'm pretty damn sure he would either kill himself (again) or blow it up himself. He never wanted it to be a tourist attraction. It was supposed to be his personal refugee, but now things are different and I think we should appreciate Neuschwanstein castle not only as a masterpiece of architecture
or fairytale castle, but also as the dream of a man who never wanted to be in the spotlight the way he is today.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Appreciation Sunday #9

After the first week in Bavaria it is time to sum up a few highlights of our trip so far:

The castle of Hohenschwangau: Even though we did not have the chance to take a tour through Neuschwanstein yet, my mother and I took one through Hohenschwangau - the castle where Ludwig II. had spent his childhood.
The tour was set in the evening as the last one for that day and it took almost two hours. I was actually quite surprised about how much I liked it, because people rarely talk about this place compared to Neuschwanstein. If you have the time to see both castles, you should not let this opportunity go to waste!
Walks: There is definitely no time and not enough space to talk about all of the walks we have made so far, but let me tell you, that there are SO many possibilities for either more challenging or relaxing walks. We went up and down a few hills/smaller mountains, through forests and valleys. I had sore legs a few times already, so I don't feel as bad about skipping my usual workout routine, which is a nice side effect.
The food: The food in Bavaria is excellent. It is nothing for those who are trying to keep a small waist, but it is oh so good! Schnitzel, Spätzle, Knödel, Sauerkraut, creamy sauces and Leberkäse... these things literally scream "Fat!" and "Carbs!" at you, but hey - I'm on holiday after all, right?

Silence: Hohenschwangau is a very busy and touristy place. Every day tons of tourists come to see the castles, but the good news? That's it. Everything else can be enjoyed almost in absolute silence without many other encounters. You only have to take one turn left and suddenly you're away from all that bustle. We were a bit worried when we arrived, but now we are quite satisfied with our location.

We are going to stay in Hohenschwangau until next Saturday, so stay tuned for more in the upcoming days.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Things to do on holiday [Rain Edition]

When we are on holiday we always hope for the best weather, so we can go outside, explore the unknown surroundings and just do things we might not do in our normal daily life. However the weather often takes a different, not very much appreciated turn and forecasts are not always reliable.
On some days you wake up and it rains cats and dogs. So, what can one do to chase the clouds away or at least avoid death by boredom?

1. This might be the most obvious one: If you have access to a computer and a working internet connection, you can obviously kill a lot of time by browsing the internet, maybe contacting some friends and update them about your holiday so far.

2. Reading. To me, rainy days are the perfect occasion to read a good book, because they create the perfect mood and along the same lines goes writing. Rain inspires me a lot. Maybe you feel the urge to write something down, too? It doesn't have to be an epic novel after all.

3. On rainy days most people tend to stay at home, so in case you still feel like going out, grab your raincoat and an umbrella and go outside. Sometimes a different weather can offer an entirely different view of certain places you will most likely have a lot more space for yourself.

4. With reference to my last tip I want to talk about museums. Especially in bigger cities museums are a great way to spend rainy days. You can hop from one place to the next one, getting your dose of cultural experience for that day and top it off with a visit to a nice café or restaurant.

5. Working out. I know, I know. Most of us see a holiday as a chance to let go a little bit. When you are quite active and healthy in your daily life, going away for a few days is a chance to slow down. However just 30 minutes of yoga or pilates doesn't hurt, right?

6. If you belong to those people who take tons of pictures you can take this opportunity to go through your photographs. That way you can recall all the things you have done so far and sort out the pictures you don't want to keep.

7. Get some organisation stuff done. Sometimes holidays can be quite busy, because you get up early and run around until the afternoon or evening hours and once you're at the hotel, you are exhausted. On a rainy day you can plan the next few days in more detail - for example when you are planning a longer tour.

These are the first pieces of advice that came to me. Except for the first 2 days we had a lot of luck with the weather so far, but who knows what it will be like the day after tomorrow?

What is your advice for activities on a rainy day?

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

A walk through the mountains

 Yesterday we had a very lucky day when it comes to the weather, so we decided to take a trip further up. Up, up, up to 1720 metres. I am talking about the Tegelberg. Of course we could not walk up there having the pugs with us, so we took the cableway.
Up on top we were deserved after this "hard walk" with a great view over the valley on the one side and mountains on the other and of course we had the opportunity to drink a cold beer.

On our way back we decided to walk not only because the cableway is quite expensive (12€ to go up, 19€ with return per person), but also to enjoy the rich nature we found ourselves in.
We took the longer path back to Hohenschwangau, because it is easier and when you either have dogs or children with you I would definitely advise you to take this path. Further up are a few places which are a bit tricky, but manageable and from then on it is a fairly easy descent.
The lake in the background is the lake we surrounded the day before
Our walk took us down the mountain with an amazing panorama, no matter where you looked. The path was seamed with long grass and wild flowers. Every now and again you could hear a little stream of fresh, cold water flowing while butterflies surrounded you at every corner.
Sometimes it is worth it to take a look back
The path curled through the range covering a rather long distance and the further down we went the more trees appeared until we reached a more forest-like area.
 During this long, but highly enjoyable journey we encountered hardly any stranger, so most of the time we could enjoy this wonderful view just by ourselves.
However towards the end we came to the Marienbrücke - the bridge from which you can see Neuschwanstein castle and there was the usual struggle with crowds of tourists. The view was still pretty amazing.
All in all our walk down the Tegelberg to the bridge took us about four hours with a few breaks for the pugs to refresh themselves and I would do it again at any time.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Appreciation Sunday #8 // Welcome to Bavaria

 Yesterday morning my parents, the dogs and I packed our things into the car and drove off to Hohenschwangau, Bavaria - our first holiday together in years.
Throughout the entire week I had been beyond excitement: Ludwig's castles, forests, mountains and long, green valleys.Those were the things I have always dreamed of and which enforced my imagination.

It took us eight hours to arrive at our destination and we were greeted by the wonderful Alps and a heavy rain.
The nearby "Pöllatschlucht": very loud, but still amazing
Today after a good night's sleep we made our first tour to discover our surroundings:

Schloss Neuschwanstein was our first stop, even though we did not go inside this time (photos will follow in a latr post). Sundays are simply too busy.
Then we went around the Alpsee, a lake which offers a good view over the castles Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. At first everything was very crowded, because of all the tourists who came from all over the world, but after a while there were only few encounters with other people.
The view ofver the Alpsee
The view was from every angle truly astonishing. On the one side you have the mountains and on the other side the the two famous castles. The water was so blue and clear you could see little fishes swimming. The mountaintops were covered by a light layer of mist. The whole scenery looked like a painting.
The sound of thunder announced the approaching storm until it finally started to rain. Once we arrived at our aparment our trousers, shoes and socks were soaking wet.
My parents complained greatly about this "unfortunate" weather, but it was very much to my liking. Of course I did not like the feeling of wet undies, but the lake looked simply beautiful with the rain disrupting the surface and the mist coming closer and closer to the water.
The mountaintops were invisible because of the mist
I find it easy to imagine how novelists feel the urge to sit down and write something in this kind of surrounding, because it conveys so many emotions. It is romantic, mysterious, historic and beautiful and I can not wait to discover even more during the next two weeks.

What are you grateful for this week?