Monday, December 9, 2013

A Very Seattle Weekend

I didn't really eat much of my own food this weekend. Saturday, I just had coffee with almond mild before work and trail mix on my way home. I ate a clementine and some other snacky foods on my way out the door to meet Christiaan Kroesen, a family friend from when I lived in Germany 10 years ago. We met at the flagship REI store, which is one of my favorite places in Seattle. It's so fun. It's like a giant treehouse with trails and a super cool rock wall and fireplace which included a campfire concert on Saturday.


I didn't buy anything, but I sure did look! I came close to buying some chacos for $20 from the basement which are all the returns. And some hiking shoes but they were 1/2 size too big.

Anyways. Then we walked around and happened upon Top Pot Donuts. I got a pumpkin donut, which is apparently famous because Obama ate it when he was there.

We had already ruined out dinner, but then we went to Wild Ginger and ate lots of asian fusion food.

It was pretty good. I ate a scallop. I'm not really sure why people love them so much. It just tasted like seafood. We finished with some ginger ice cream. 

Sunday, My Dad's cousin Nancy picked me up so we could get our copies of my aunt's book that just came out (check it out at http://healingafghanistan.com/!)

Then she took me, her teenage daughter and their host student for the weekend to downtown Seattle. We went to the flagship Nordstrom, up the Space Needle, and to Pike Place Market. It was my first time up the needle! 
downtown, Mt. Ranier, Puget Sound
It was a nice day! I ended it with a treat when I bought Reese's Peanut Butter bells to sent to my Kinders in Deutschland. I also got dark hot cocoa and a Reese's tree, which I ate with 2 clementines. And Kate made delicious yummy roasted butternut squash with apples and garlic, which she kindly let me eat. Number 5 bajillion why she's the best. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday funday

This week at work had been more exhausting than the previous 13 combined. And that's only a slight exaggeration. The good news is, the Boys and Girls Club kids were good all week! Which is pretty much a miracle for them. I haven't really felt on top of my game all week either.
Today I had
Half a grapefruit and coffee with almond milk
Burrito with a tortilla and cheese from work, plus black beans with veggies and salsa
Carrot coconut muffin, fruit salad with mango, berries and the rest of the grapefruit
Snacks were trail mix and the gross-but-so-good mandarin oranges from work. At least they kind of still look like fruit.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Day 3

Today was a weird day, the kind that ends in drinking a large coffee with gingerbread syrup at Starbucks at 6:30pm and includes eating peanut butter off a spoon.

It started off well enough, with a mixture of oatmeal and barley flakes with pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, jaggery, pumpkin seeds and chocolate chips. With a big mug of coffee.

But sometimes it's hard to think straight when your reproductive system decides to wage war against you. The day included lots of chocolate, including a delicious homemade chocolate bar with coconut, almonds and caramel. And carbs. And caffeine.

The day also included potato salad with sweet potato and roasted beets, and pickled rainbow chard stems with a little daikon radish and onion.

A clementine, to get all the extra melted chocolate out of the bowl.

A fried egg with lots of garlic powder (don't judge me), greens, white bean basil hummus, chai, and more. I honestly don't even remember everything else I ate.

But I'm currently skyping with Hannah and Lexi! I haven't talked to both of them at the same time since graduation!!


Day 2

Today I had
Carrot coconut muffin, coffee and the rest of my soy egg nog
Roasted sweet potato and broccoli with black beans and the rest of my almond cheese over mixed greens with salsa
Clementine and chocolate chips, and a slice of banana bread someone brought to work
Peanut butter and berry smoothie, trail mix from work
A beer and more chocolate chips after a spontaneous trip to the brewery with coworkers
I did go to the bargain store and bought clementines, almond milk and chocolate chips. It was with the last of my cash though, so it doesn't count towards my no food budget. Actually, the beer was the last of my cash

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Day 1

This is what I ate today:
Chai (from a k-cup. I forgot about those)
Mango green smoothie with coconut flakes
Toast with peanut butter
Grapefruit
Soy egg nog
Egg nog latte at Kaffeeklatsch, my favorite German coffee shop. Usually I just get coffee, so it was a nice treat.
Curry -rice and quinoa with mixed veggies, chick peas, and simmer sauce
A fake no bake cookie with oats, peanut butter, cocoa powder, jaggery (raw sugar), coconut flakes, and almonds.
It's back to the crazy that is work tomorrow, which always makes it difficult to have normal healthy meals.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

December Challenge

I definitely overspent on my November for budget. Between a couple parties and Thanksgiving, including a dropped pie, and a trip to Trader Joe's when I was hungry, and just not being careful, I spent a lot. So. My goal for December is to eat what I have and not grocery shop for the next 3 weeks. I am low on fruit though so I will probably buy a bag of clementines.

This is what I have to work with:
  • Oats
  • Barley flakes
  • Rice
  • some black beans 
  • nutritional yeast
  • Vegetable bouillon cubes
  • Frozen flatbreads 
  • almonds 
  • pumpkin seeds 
  • peanut butter 
  • chia seeds 
  • flax seeds 
  • coconut 
  • 1 apple 
  • 2 grapefruits 
  • mixed greens 
  • 1/2 lemon 
  • sweet potatoes 
  • red potatoes 
  • beets 
  • frozen mangos 
  • frozen berries 
  • frozen banana 
  • frozen kale and chard
  • frozen bell pepper 
  • frozen broccoli 
  • frozen zucchini
  • canned pumpkin 
  • almond milk 
  • soy eggnog 
  • 6 eggs 
  • a little almond cheese 
  • butter 
  • hummus 
  • curry simmer sauce 
  • salsa 
  • creamy dressing 
  • Vinaigrette
  • pickled charge stems 
  • lentil soup 1 serving 
  • tomato soup two servings 
  • sweet potato soup four servings 
  • frozen pizza two servings 
  • carrot muffins about 6
  • 4 pumpkin croissants

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Travel Tips

This is way overdue, but these are just some general tips I've picked up and learned from trial and error.

  • Spend at least 2 nights everywhere you go. It's easy to want to see everything, but you'll just feel rushed and stressed and not see a lot in the places you go.
  • Do plan ahead. Try not to just show up somewhere and go to the Tourist Office. I've done this a lot, and it's fine, but you just end up wasting valuable time and getting confused. Especially if you're with other people. I like guidebooks, because everything's in one place (try libraries so you don't have to buy them!). Googling and reading forums is also helpful, but can be overwhelming. There are some good free travel guides too for a lot of cities.
  • But be flexible. Things change, that place you want to see might be closed, or you may want to stay longer in one place and skip another. Talk to people at your hostels or hotels for suggestions.
  • Research your transportation options. Trains in Italy were cheap and last minute tickets cost the same. Germany's expensive but if you plan ahead and find discount options it's okay. Buses are usually cheaper and not much slower. Look for other passes if you'll be there a while - like Germany's 5 days in 2 weeks passes for young adults.
  • Bring you student ID.
  • HostelBookers and HostelWorld are great. Trust the reviews and the rating system. I can put up with a lot, but it's nice to know what to expect. Sometimes booking directly on the hostel's website can save you a couple dollars.
    • best hostel country: Portugal 
    • worst: Italy 
    • most expensive: Germany
    • cheapest: eastern Europe, Turkey
  • Try couch surfing and ride sharing, especially in expensive Scandinavia and western European countries.
  • Don't be afraid to travel alone! It's less stressful, you can do what you want, and you'll be more likely to meet people! Sometimes I picked hostels just because they were deemed good places to meet people, and the comments were always right! I had my best and most fun experiences traveling alone, and I'm bad at meeting people. Plus, you feel pretty awesome navigating transportation and everything in a different language.
  • Shop at grocery stores. A lot of hostels have kitchens, but even if they don't you can get things like bread, cheese, yogurt, fruit, etc. Picnics are great and cheap. Plus, I love grocery stores so exploring them is as good as sight seeing in my eyes.
  • Either embrace to selfie or get people to take pictures of you if you're alone. Yes, it's awkward but it's worth it to have those memories documented (or just make friends with other travelers. They understand.)
  • Get out of your comfort zone every day. Whether that's trying a new food, going to a random club till 6am the day after you ran a half marathon and didn't sleep with people you just met 10 minutes ago, or going on a difficult hike. These are the experience you'll value forever.
  • Balance culture and fun. Museums, tours (check out http://www.neweuropetours.eu/), night life, physical activity. 
    • I love going for runs in new cities. You get to see it before the tourists are out, you understand the layout of the city better, and often stumble upon hidden gems tucked away next to the famous stuff.
  • Choose what's important to pay for.
    • If you take the time and effort to plan, you'll be less likely to waste money! Eat a couple special restaurant meals, but it's easy to eat cheap with street food and grocery stores. This may mean that you will be eating gelato for lunch, but hey, you're in Italy.
  • most of all, HAVE FUN! Don't let little things stress you out. Almost everyone is more than willing to help you out, so use common sense and make the most of your trip!

Tuck and Robin Lakes

Kate reminded me I basically had 4 days off over Labor Day weekend, so I decided to do an overnight hike. I ended up going to Tuck and Robin Lakes.

I parked at the trailhead, which was full although only two trail start there. I have no idea where all those people were. I didn't start until 2:00pm because it was very important to go to the Goodwill sale first. It wasn't too hard to find, but the last 14 miles were on a terrible forrest road filled with potholes and rocks. Those last 14 miles took me over 1 1/2 hours.


It starts on the trail for Deception Pass and is pretty flat past Lake Hyas. I only saw a few people. Then, it goes up switchbacks for a couple of miles until you hit the fork for Tuck and Robin Lakes. And then it climbs. It's pretty much straight up, but that means the views get good really fast. Cathedral Rock, Mt. Daniel covered in snow and a glacier with lots of waterfalls streaming down. Supposedly, Mt. Ranier should be visible but I never saw it. There were so distant clouds in that direction though.

I got to Tuck Lake just before 5pm, and decided I should swim. It was quite frigid. As in, I swam to an island maybe 25m away, and my butt was numb by the time I got there. I warmed up and walked around the rocks once, but then swam back because I knew I had at least an hour left once I found the trail. It actually was easier than I thought, because I knew to keep Tuck Pot on my right and the lake on my left, and then I started seeing cairns. Thank goodness for those cairns. Again, it just climbed straight up. This part was even steeper. It's only a mile, but I definitely used my hands a lot, especially with a backpack. At one point I was following a path and realized I hadn't seen a cairn in a couple minutes (there should always be one in sight.) I realized I must be on a mountain goat trail, which didn't worry e that much because I know they go up to the lakes too. But then I saw the real trail right below. I had to do some legit rock climbing. It was only sideways, but I had to get to where the slope caught up to me so it started pretty high. Then I trampled a bunch of vegetation and probably caused years of damage side stepping on the precarious slope until I was on the just as precarious, but more sturdy, trail. The last push to the top is just on granite with cairns to lead you. The view was magnificent, although there were some clouds moving fast. I finally made it to the lakes, and found a spot to camp!


I ate dinner on the ridge between the lakes, and saw another tent across the small lake. A mountain goat passed the two people sitting on the rocks next to the tent, and then checked out my camp. He looked at me a few times. Apparently they like to lick where people have peed...so I made sure to do that far away from my tent. The clouds moved in fast and soon I was engulfed, which meant I missed the sunset too.

The next morning I was still deep in the depths of a cloud, so I stayed in my tent a while. I also watched a couple goats playing and a mama and her kid, who came right up to me.
Eventually I started climbing up the ridge. I wasn't sure how worth it it would be, but it seemed like the higher I climbed, the clearer it got. I was above the clouds for a while, and then the sun came out and they cleared. The view was amazing! I got to the top and could see over the other side too, but I couldn't figure out how to get to Granite Mountain and it was getting late so I just went down.

I packed up and started down, and it took me almost as long as coming up because it was so steep. It was amazing! I hope to be able to do more overnight trips!


Monday, August 19, 2013

Roadtrippin Postcards

After lots of miles and hours and money, I made it to Seattle! I started the week by live-tweeting my adventure https://twitter.com/liztowne #roadtrippin, but then I started doing other things besides driving and I didn't have coverage most places and my sister only drove a little bit the first 2 days so I didn't even have any time.

goodbye Austin!
We drove straight West on I10, and it was the best experience I've ever had driving in Texas! We only had like an hour of boring driving!

Then we camped in Las Cruces, NM. It stormed so bad that night and it was so windy that even during the couple hours when it didn't rain, Carolyn still got dripped on. We both ended up in the car and didn't sleep much.

leaving Las Cruces
Sunday night I arrived to stay with none other than the bestest roommate ever, Hannah!! It was just like old times. We did some touristing in Los Angeles, and then Monday night I got to see Betsy! and remembered how much I miss having her in the same physical location. Someday.

Hollywood sign!
Tuesday we made our way up to Santa Barbara, where we net my aunt and uncle for dinner. We got an early start Wednesday morning so we could take Highway 1 up the California coast to San Francisco. It was probably the most beautiful and stressful drives of my life! We saw elephant seals and I had to pay lots of money for gas so I wouldn't get stranded in a random state park.

Santa Monica pier
Santa Barbara Farmer's Market
Driving in San Francisco wasn't exactly a pleasant experience, but it was okay. We had to spend lots of money for a pretty average hostel. But at least my bike didn't get stolen. We had a little time to sight see but didn't make it to the Golden Gate Bridge in the small window of time where the sun was actually out.

elephant seals!!
Golden Gate Bridge
We drove north the next morning, and drove through a redwood tree! We also saw an Elk herd right by where we camped, essentially at the south end of Redwood National Park. Luckily it only rained a little and the tree above us protected us.

I drove through this tree!
Friday we drove into Oregon and met Meagan, who was an au pair in Hannover with me, in Portland. Traffic in Oregon was annoying. We saw a family friend from Germany in Tacoma, and then finally made it to my new home and Kate Finman at 11pm!
welcome to Washington!
my new home. I have upgraded to a futon in the living room








Friday, August 9, 2013

Home again

I've been home in Austin for a couple weeks, and it's weird. Germany feels a long way away, and things here are just like they always have been. I start driving to Seattle tomorrow, so I've been spending all my time packing, replacing things from my lost wallet (it was stolen from a swimming pool a couple weeks before I left - fun, right?), getting things taken care of, and applying for jobs. Lots of jobs. And I still don't have one. At least I'm not homeless anymore!

I've been meaning to write this for a while. Between France and Germany, I was in Europe for just over a year.

In that year I went to 9 Countries (France, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal. and the USA for vacation, so it counts)

and 9 Cities in Germany (Hanover, Frankfurt, Bremen, Goslar, Berlin, L√ľneburger Heide, Hamburg, Heidelberg, Hildesheim

flew on 21 planes, and ridden on numerous trains, buses, trams, boats, and a couple times in cars.

eaten apples, potatoes, strawberries and raspberries that grew right outside my front door

rode my bike 1200 miles through the Alps, ran my first half marathon, and did the first ever Tough Mudder in Germany

took care of 5 beautiful, adorable, crazy, high energy children

and most of all had a fun year. It wasn't the easiest year, mentally and emotionally, but I really did enjoy it and was sad to leave.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

So long, Farewell, Aufwiedersehen, Goodbye

I promise I didn't do the Sound of Music thing on purpose. But the twins do love that song. We have to sing it every night before bed and Philippa always says the "no" part of Liesl's line.

It still hasn't hit me that I'm leaving. Sunday night, the family had a kind of surprise going away party for me, except all my friends that haven't already left couldn't come. Which was like 3 or 4, apart from Rachel and Max who were there anyways. So it was just us, the grandparents and Sigrid, and Sonja, who was staying here the first month I was here. We sat out in the garden and grilled, and they hung up the Texas flag that hung at the capitol once. It was really nice, and I'm glad it wasn't a big thing. I don't like being the center of attention. I'm going to miss a lot of things here, and most of all my kinders! I love them all a whole bunch!





Greta's still convinced she's coming with me, flying away on the tram and eating ice cream and fries in the airplane. Johanna would come, but she told me she doesn't have enough money.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tough Mudder Nordwestdeutschland

The first one ever in Germany.
Tough Mudder: the picture version. I'll probably write a real recap soon. But it was a ton of fun!


from their facebook page

before

after 18km and 19 obstacles








cartwheels! 
walk the plank
electric eel
spiders web
funky monkey 



I finished the last half basically crippled