Spring Favourites

It’s official! My favourite season has come to an end but I did not waste any time this year and made it probably my best one yet! Here, let me give you a recap:

I spoke up about my PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and have received some good feedback from people who are going through the same. I’m also happy to have found a way to reduce the symptoms which is by going on a Ketogenic diet and it has been working wonders! I had been on the diet for three full months when we went on holiday to the north of Spain and had to break our Ketosis to fully experience the Basque culinary goodness but I decided to jump back on, turns out I’d rather live without bread and sugary food than feeling bloated the whole time. My menstrual cycles have become relatively stable since and I even lost up to 6kg in the process. Not bad, yeah?

At the beginning of spring, I received my first birthday present, way ahead of my birthday. I’ve always wanted a record player so the wife decided to get me one, just in time for the beginning of flea market season so I can start haggling for vinyls. As of now I have found a few from different sources to add to my growing collection.

P1100966

The reason why spring is my favourite season is because it’s the time of the year I celebrate my birthday. Sometimes it also seems to me like I celebrate it the whole season. This year, though, it was probably a whole season’s worth of events that we made happen in just one week.

P1100238

Winter had been hard. I remember some extremely cold nights so it was exciting to see some colour, flowers in full bloom. I even planted some lavenders on my balcony (something I have been trying to do since we moved here two summers ago) and they did not die on me! I also bought some lights and new furniture to complete the balcony make-over.

P1100942

As you can see, we also decided to put up our Pride flag.

Did anyone say strawberries?! Part of this season is the excitement for the freshest strawberries we have missed all winter. I have wondered my whole life why I always hated strawberry-flavoured candy or ice cream or anything, really. It’s because the only way I can enjoy them is if they’re fresh! And what better way to get them than to pick them yourself straight off the field? That’s right! Though we live in the big city, we are still close enough to the best strawberry farms that allow you to pick the fruit yourself and buying them by the kilo.

As I have mentioned earlier, we went on holiday to Santander and Basque Country and it was gorgeous! It was our first time going on a camping trip. Nature is just wonderful, isn’t it?

IMG_4377.jpg
So peaceful, so green.

But because that holiday was too short (the flight schedules are just really inconvenient), we were back in Berlin on a Friday and we still had all weekend to find something to do. My friend Jannah so happened to be traveling around eastern Europe at the time and was on her way to Kraków for the weekend. We thought, what the hell, let’s just get in the car and go meet her there. I haven’t seen her in seven years and it was a chance for Joan to meet her as well. So Jannah was supposed to go to Warsaw after her stop in Kraków and then take the bus to Berlin from there but, with little convincing, she realised it’s probably much too exhausting to pursue that trip to Warsaw and we were going to back to Berlin anyway so she decided to skip it and we took her across the border and to the best city in the world (but that’s my humble opinion).

img_5024
And here’s a photo of the three of us taking a picture of each other.

And a trip to Kraków is never complete without a day trip to the Auschwitz concentration camps. There are no words to describe the experience of being in such a place, some people even got very emotional just being there.

P1100812.jpg

But the best part about this weekend is that we were in good company. 🙂

Speaking of trips, the next one in store for us will be this month! My cousin, who is currently living in Malaysia, married an Englishman last April and she is coming to the UK with the whole family for a small gathering. Many of us living here in Germany were not able to come to their wedding so we are all coming to this event in the UK together. Even my mum’s coming with us because her visa just got approved! This is something I am absolutely grateful for because she is about to go back to Philippines to stay there for good and I would really love for her to see a bit more of this part of the world before she leaves. I also have a few other short trips planned for her so summer will definitely be just as exciting as spring. ❤

red telephone booth
Photo by Pedro Figueras on Pexels.com

Spring Cleaning: Flea Market Edition

I’ve been going to flea markets my whole life. It’s probably part of the life of a second-generation immigrant child. My mom would be so proud showcasing her haul to me that she haggled down to the lowest low, all with the thought that they would fit me perfectly.

I still like going to flea markets myself, looking for books, clothes and most recently, vinyls. I live close to Nowkoelln Flowmarkt here in Berlin that runs every other Sunday during the warm season and it’s by far my favourite in the city for it’s trendy and hip and it’s small enough that it’s not too overwhelming, but also big enough to always find something to bring home.

It wasn’t until recently, though, that I was able to sell some stuff myself. I have been trying to declutter for years and I’ve even collected sacks full of clothing that I’ve decided to let go of, not to mention some decor and knick-knacks that I know I’ll never miss.

How to join:

We got in by registering two weeks before our preferred day. Registration starts at 7 AM and we got there at 6:30 AM just to be sure we get in only to be surprised by an already long queue by the registration booth. We got in line and waited. Around 7 AM they started handing out registration forms so everyone can start filling them up to just submit them at your turn. For this part, it’s smart to bring your own pen but also be nice enough to lend yours to the people before and behind you. When it was finally our turn, we were given a number for our stand and we paid 30 € registration fee (plus 12 € will be collected on the day itself). A good two hours since we got there, we were finally done.

What to sell:

  • Clothing
  • Shoes
  • Toys, board games
  • DVD’s + Video Games
  • Electronics
  • Books

Two full weeks to go before the big day, we had plenty of time to collect the things we want to sell. Most of them, as I have mentioned, are already in sacks from years ago. But I decided to sort through them again and found some old clothes that I thought I’d rather donate, send home, or maybe even wear again. Then I made my way to my closet and found more stuff. The most challenging part, I guess, is letting go. I have found plenty of dresses that I’ve only worn once but never found the right occasion to wear again. They’re in excellent condition but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sell them at a price that I’d like to think it’s worth because no one would touch them at that price. I just had to accept the fact that they will be gone forever but at least it will make someone very happy not just wearing them but also knowing that they got them for close to nothing (about the same rush I get whenever I get a good deal as a thrifter myself).

I am a huge collector of sunglasses and believe to have had like about 50 pairs of them before I sold half of them at the flea market. I never really got any expensive or branded ones for myself over the years and that’s why it was easier for me to let go of them. My style has also pretty much changed a couple of times in the span of 10 years so most of them I haven’t really worn in a while. The wife had the brilliant idea of hanging them on a string like a party banner above our heads so everyone who comes by can see them.

What I have also found lying around the house are board games that we don’t ever really get to play anymore. These have been a hit with the kids and it was a shame we did not have more to sell. Children tend to point at things in big boxes and that’s how we sold our old bingo set and other games. I was surprised in a really positive way to find that kids still get excited about games that don’t involve staring down at their parent’s smartphones for hours on end.

I also had a box full of English books that I was hoping to sell but I was surprised to find that people are not really interested anymore. I know that when I go to flea markets I tend to look for these boxes and have brought a couple of books home myself but clearly I’m alone in this because people barely even checked that box I laid open for them. For some reason I thought Neukölln was the right place to sell English books but I only ended up being rid of one book.

Overall it was a good experience. It’s normal to feel too optimistic with the money you’re hoping to make before you start because your goal really is to sell everything. We went home still with a big box full of clothes (I probably only sold half of them), some DVDs and video games, and a handful of sunglasses. It’s funny, though, how the day went by so quickly. There were moments where we did not sell anything for a full hour, then at some point we sell items again by the minute. It’s not eventful throughout but it’s fulfilling enough to carry on. Before noon we already got the 42 € fee back and even if business was slow after that, we knew we were in the black.

Happy, Quiet Birthday

Time flies, doesn’t it? I still remember the cold winter days like they were yesterday…

It was my birthday last week and we quietly celebrated it, just me and the wife. After a toxic work week it felt like a quiet birthday weekend was long overdue. Although I must admit, the celebration was month-long considering that I have received some of my birthday gifts really early and the anticipation of the things we were about to do kept me going.

I somehow lost my wife’s little JBL bluetooth speaker so she got me this one which is big enough not to misplace it. 🙂
IMG_4118
We have been searching record stores and flea markets for weeks now for some quality second-hand vinyls.

Also, a few months back we got tickets to Sam Smith’s concert here in Berlin and it was just a few days short of my birthday. To be quite honest, I did not expect such a great show. He’s just adorable and a great performer and I’m glad I didn’t give away our tickets or else we would have missed out on all his cuteness. 🙂

IMG_4158.jpg

Then on the first day of my birthday weekend, we had theatre tickets to see Die Therapie, from Sebastian Fitzek’s book of the same name which I have written little bit about here. I really loved the book so, sadly, I already knew the twists but it was nevertheless a really good performance and I realised that I actually do like going to the theatre and will be looking out for more shows in the city.

Die_Theraphie-324x160

So on the day before the birthday itself, we checked into the Hilton Berlin. Last year we were in Warsaw and got a great deal on a room at the Hilton hotel there and just loved everything about it, especially the breakfast buffet. Since we decided to stay home this year, we chose the Hilton again mostly for the breakfast but also because I got us a room with a view at a discounted price.

P1100163.jpg

The hotel is right at Gendarmenmarkt and from our window you can see Deutscher Dom from up close. Waking up to all this was the whole point. We also had access to the wellness area and executive lounge that served snacks and coffee and wine so I can really say it was worth every cent.

We lost track of time the night before my birthday when we took advantage of the facilities of the hotel by going to the gym, then the pool, then the sauna and next thing we know it’s already late in the night when we were ready for dinner. We went out and walked around Gendarmenmarkt looking for a place that still served warm food at 10 PM and ended up at a Bavarian brewery and ate crispy Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle). Really, Keto has not been more fun than that night, indulging in what we Filipinos would call crispy pata without any guilt whatsoever.

After our dinner, we walked through Gendarmenmarkt, appreciating its stillness. The moon was bright and only few people were out considering it was a Sunday night. While waiting for the clock to strike midnight, we took a few photos.

P1100101.jpg

On the day of my birthday and after checking out, we stayed a bit longer in the area since we don’t really get to roam around there like tourists do and just pretended we were one of them. Really, I can’t even remember the last time I stepped foot inside Galeries Lafayette. Since we have been on Keto for almost two months now, we skipped the whole birthday cake thing and I chose something I get to eat even less often – oysters. We had lunch at Seaside Fish & Seafood Bar for my oyster fix and I was positively surprised. It’s the only restaurant of its kind that we’ve found in the city so far and has instantly become one of my favourites. Fresh seafood reminds me of home. ❤

P1100216
My this year’s idea of a birthday cake.

P1100238

Soon the day was over and we went home feeling relaxed and I have been receiving birthday greetings by the minute which is always a great way to spend the day.

When I got back to work doing the AM shift, the table was set with flowers and cakes and gifts, a tradition we have that I usually coordinate. But since this time it was my turn at the receiving end, I did not know what to expect. I was even scared that they will all just forget about it. This clearly wasn’t the case, though, and I was glad to be back at work again. They even made a low-carb cheesecake that suits my current diet situation. 🙂

IMG_4214

More greetings came in that day from my colleagues and everyone politely asked if I had some sort of celebration. I always replied that I had my peace and quiet, which I seemed to value more these days. I don’t really miss having a birthday party with food and drinks and friends and family and lots and lots of gifts, or even having to spend it somewhere far from home. I’m not saying that I will only ever be spending my birthdays like this in the future because I might want to throw a party or two at some point, but I am sure that I’d be happy to have some days like this one – just me, the wife, and a view.

P1100076.jpg

(Had my sister not broken her leg last month, she would have come to Berlin to be with us on my birthday. Not sure what our plans would have looked like then, but I’m sure it would have been a fun day nonetheless.)

The thrill of living in this city is still the same as when we first moved here almost two years ago. We get lazy sometimes but it’s satisfying to know that to avoid boredom, all we have to do is get out of the house, maybe drive a few kilometres, and we’ll see something we’ve never seen before. ❤