An Evening at Tadschikische Teestube (Tajik tearoom)

This summer, I had the pleasure of having dinner in the Tajik tearoom (Tadschikische Teestube) in Berlin. I had never heard of this place before as it was a friend who suggested we go there, but I was in for a delightful evening as soon as I walked in the door.

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The tearoom is hidden in a pleasant courtyard off Oranienburger Tor, an area I wouldn’t really have expected it to be in. Not much from the outside, once you walk in you are met with an eyeful of Oriental delights.

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Rich colours project a warm feeling into a room which has a hint of the GDR due to its high ceilings. This is actually pretty amazing as the entire interior came from the Tajikistan stand that was on display at a 1970s Leipzig trade fair, and presented to the GDR as a gift.

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Guests can choose to sit at the more traditional low tables on beautifully tapered cushions, or at a higher, more ‘everyday’ table.

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An absolutely wonderful amount of teas are available here and you can order anything from a single pot, to tea accompanied by biscuits, to a full tea ceremony. I don’t like any hot drinks at all so I can’t personally vouch for the taste, but my friend was more than satisfied by it. There was a pretty good food menu offering a selection of light and tasty dishes. There were enough vegetarian and vegan dishes provided so that there was something suitable for everybody. Silly me didn’t jot down the name of what I ate but they were basically dumplings filled with mashed potato and some mushrooms on top. Salad was served on the side. It was a delicious meal and just the right amount of food for a hot day.

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Tadschikische Teestube is definitely a place to go if you are looking for something a bit different in Berlin. There are plenty of teas to choose from and more than enough food to eat. The service is friendly and fast too.

Have you ever been to a Tajik tearoom? What did you think?

Book Review: Grey by E.L. James

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After reading the trilogy and suffering through the film, there was a certain attachment inside me that forced me to read ‘Grey’ by E.L. James. I started it just as I was coming back from holidays, as I thought it would be a fast and easy read to ease me back in. Wrong. ‘Grey’ took much longer for me to read (nearly two weeks) than I had expected.

So let’s get one thing straight from the onset, as I know there have been many readers confused by this, ‘Grey’ is the exact same story as ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. Not much has changed between the two novels so don’t expect something new and exciting. All that is different is the viewpoint, plus tiny snippets of Christian’s background that we don’t find out until the later books in the original series.

For the majority of the book I found Christian unbearable. I can see now, in a way, why people protested against the Fifty Shade trilogy as one that promoted violence against women. I am not one to speak anything of Christian’s chosen lifestyle as it is a more common choice than one thinks, but he is portrayed much more as a heartless, cruel SOB than he was originally. Christian lovers need to be prepared to handle that.

Again, the book was badly written as it seemed E.L. James did not learn from past criticisms. I didn’t mind, or even notice so much during the first books, but this time round it helped drag out a story I already knew.

Overall, I was pretty disappointed, but at the same time, I wasn’t expecting much, if that makes sense. I would like to think that the Fifty Shades bubble will burst soon, but that is not likely. However, as much as I have criticized this book, it is most likely that I will read anything else she adds to the series. I feel like I have invested so much time now that I have to see things out.

Have you read ‘Grey’? What did you think?

How I Maintain a Healthy Weight

After months of improving my lifestyle and getting to a weight I am comfortable with, I thought it was finally time for me to write this post. The title is a massive spoiler and needs no explanation, so let’s jump right in!

Find out what your healthy weight is. Most people seem to think that there is one exact number they should be hitting on the scales, so you may be surprised to know that you actually have a rather good range to work with. Find out what your healthy weight range is by using a BMI calendar. This will also help you set a minimum and maximum weight for yourself.

Keep a good energy balance. Firstly, use an app like My Fitness Pal to determine how many calories you should eat a day in order to maintain your weight. Once you find out that number, ensure everyday that only the amount of calories you need are entering your body. Of course, it will be necessary to eat more calories if you exercise each day, but only eat enough extra to ensure a good energy balance.

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Enjoy a fun yet relaxing activity like rowing to keep in shape.

Eat often. I was really skeptical in the past when I read tips suggesting to eat often throughout the day. I wondered “how the hell can I do this without consuming way more calories than needed”? However, I found eating three healthy meals and two snacks rather than three large meals helped very much. Not allowing myself to go too long between eating helped me to stop overindulging at meals and also helped my metabolism to keep ticking along.

Keep yourself motivated. If you have recently changed from a very unhealthy lifestyle (like I did), it is very easy to slip back into old habits. Ask your friends and family to help keep you in the game by not tempting you with fast food and the like. It is also worthwhile to set up an inspiration board or follow some people experiencing the same journey as you on Instagram.

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Quick salads like this are the types of meals I like to eat now.

Be prepared. The more you prepare your daily meals, the less chance you have of overindulging in junk. Do a healthy shop once a week and plan your meals around what you buy. It also helps to shop with a list and some meals in mind. You should also food shop on a full stomach or you are most likely to buy processed, fatty foods. Prepare big batches of food to keep in the fridge or throw in the freezer so you have something healthy and quick to reach for. Bring you lunch and snacks to work and leave your purse at home so you are not tempted to ditch nutritious food for a quick stop at McDonalds.

Always have a breakfast. After years of defying this golden rule, I finally wised up to just how important it is. Setting yourself up for a good day is sure to keep you on track over the course of 24 hours. Choose a healthy breakfast with the nutrients to fill you up for the day to avoid crashing at 10pm. My favourites are Weetabix, avocado or eggs.

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Egg and tomato – such a yummy breakfast!

These are just some of the things I do to keep myself in good shape and at a healthy weight. I am by no means perfect and am always looking for things I could do better so leave your tips in the comments below!

Beauty Review: Nivea Aftershave Balm Primer

I have been sitting on this blog post for a number of weeks now, simply because I wanted to give the product a real go before publishing my honest opinion.

Most you will probably heard of, and even tried, the Nivea Aftershave Balm as a primer by now as the tip has been floating around the blogosphere for some months. After trying several primers in the past which never truly fulfilled my needs, I was skeptical of the claims bloggers were making about this ‘wonder product’. There was only one way to find out if the rumours were true and I went out and bought a bottle for myself.

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Nivea is a native of Germany so luckily for me I was able to pick up a bottle of the balm for little more that €3 at Rossmann. The bottle is a pretty decent size and has already lasted a month, and that is with use practically every day. I have used it with both the Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation and Clinique Repairwear. Both foundations lasted much longer than usual when applied over the balm. After a complete working day, or a weekend day spent walking, shopping, etc, my make up is still as good as when I put it on in the morning. Everything stays in place and all I suffer from is a little bit of fall off on the nose (makeup never sticks to my nose no matter what I do so I am more than happy to experience just a little fall off).

The aftershave balm applies smoothly and evenly and actually helps to apply the foundation in the same manner. One thing I do recommend is only using a little if the product. A little goes a long way and you will find out this once applying it to your face. I applied too much on my first application and although it kept my foundation in place, oil did come through leaving me with a more shiny face than I wanted.

Overall, this is a great alternative to expensive primers. It does exactly what a primer should so and is an extremely affordable price.

Have you tried the Nivea Aftershave Balm as a primer before? What did you think?

Rowing in Tiergarten

The weather has been absolutely crazy in Berlin for the last couple of weeks, hitting the 30s most of the time. My Irish body is certainly not made for those kind of temperatures! My sister and her boyfriend came and visited this month and after four days of walking around in this crazy heat, we decided to take the weight off our feet and go rowing.

Tiergarten can be found in the western side of Berlin, and is perhaps the city’s best known park. Those who pass there at any time of the day and week will find people relaxing, having a picnic, cycling, jogging and enjoying a whole range of other activities. We walked for about 15 minutes to get to our destination. These are some snaps I took along the way.

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The rowing boats are situated at the small lake of Neuer See. Even if you are not interested in rowing, it is a nice place to go and chill out for a bit. Pizza and drinks can be enjoyed at Cafe am Neuen See, even if they are on the pricey side.

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There was a bit of a queue waiting for the boats when we arrived, so we ended up waiting about thirty minutes. The boat costs just €10 per hour no matter if there is just one or four people inside it. One hour is enough time to cover the lake and to spend some times just floating, but I am sure the time can be extended if you ask the staff in charge.

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Rowing in Tiergarten is an excellent way to spend a few sunny hours in Berlin. The price is a bargain and the bobbing of the lake is the perfect setting for relaxation. Give it a try sometime and see for yourself!

Film Review: Inside Out

I also feel a sense of victory when I go home to Ireland and manage to see a film that is weeks away from being released in Germany. This time I went to see the latest Disney Pixar offering, Inside Out, as a laugh was needed following 5 long days of rain.

Inside Out tells the story of happy-go-lucky, eleven-year-old Riley whose world is thrown upside down when her family move to San Francisco. The storyline focuses on Riley’s emotions, Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust, who try to guide her through this difficult time. However, events are thrown into utter turmoil when Joy and Sadness are thrown into the depths of Riley’s memories, leaving the other emotions to deal with the consequences.

This film has been totally hyped up and it was recommended that I go see it numerous times. Safe to say, I was pretty much looking forward to seeing it. However, when it didn’t pick up by the halfway point, I allowed my feelings of disappointment to come trickling in. Yes, there were some parts which did induce a little giggle, but there were none of the laugh out loud moments I have come to expect from Pixar. In my opinion, the funniest part was during the rolling credits when we were shown the emotions in some other people’s heads.

The part that I did appreciate in Inside Out was the underlying adult theme of depression. Hopefully this doesn’t count as a spoiler, but it basically told the viewer that sadness was not something which should be ignored, but something which needs to be understood and dealt with in order to continue a happy life.

Overall, I was not satisfied with Inside Out. Saying that, many people seemed to have truly enjoyed it, and you may be one of those people. But I say just wait for the DVD.

Haul Week: Massive Book Haul

Haul Week just wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t feature a book haul. This is the mother of all book hauls and I hope all you bookworms enjoy reading this post as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Returning to Berlin from Ireland, I filled my hand luggage with only books; 23 books to be exact. The case was like an absolute brick and I think even airport security got suspicious as they swab tested my case. Oops. The books are a mixture of charity shop finds, books from my childhood and books given to me by people. Let me know which ones you have read and loved so I can prioritize!

Charity Shop Finds

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

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The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

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The Snapper by Roddy Doyle

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7th Heaven by James Patterson

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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

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Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice

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The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

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The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

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Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

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Atonement by Ian McEwan

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The Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chamberlain

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Books From my Childhood

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

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A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

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The Railway Children by E. Nesbitt

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Call of the Wind by Jack London

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Through The Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll

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The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde

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The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Books Given To Me

Grey by E.L. James

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Private Berlin by James Patterson & Mark Sullivan

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Blood Red Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick

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You Against Me by Jenny Downham

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The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

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