Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Friday letters en route to Paris

Good morning! As this publishes, I am hopefully on my way to Paris – fingers crossed for no delays please! We’re off to see a live show of the most excellent podcast Welcome to Night Vale (give it a listen if you haven’t already. It’s surreal and bizarre and highly amusing in a mental kind of way).

Let me tell you a little about my week. On Saturday, Jan, K and I went to a drag queen competition in Karlsruhe (“Karlsruhe sucht den Superdrag”). It was a lot of fun, and I want this contestant’s hair:

drag queen

I admit it doesn’t look like much in the picture, but in real life it was really pretty! And yes, I’m aware that this is a wig, but if I grew my hair, dyed it and invested in some curlers I could achieve that look… right?! Also, this was one of the judges. How awesome is this costume?!

drag queen contest

Terrible picture, but in case you can’t tell, she’s a snake!
Other than that, my week has consisted of work, work, work. While some of my German colleagues haven’t had as many translations to complete as usual, I’m practically drowning in them! I even have a huge one that isn’t due until mid-December, so I’ll be kept busy basically until we close for Christmas. Definitely not complaining – I much prefer this to no work! But I have to admit I’m glad I’ve got this long weekend to break things up a bit (and also that I applied for the day off back in August – any later and it might already have been impossible!). Now let’s have some letters:

letter box

Dear Paris. See you in a few hours!

Dear French food. Can’t wait to eat you! (And I’m so glad my stomach seems to be my friend again.)

Dear November. I can’t believe you’re already here! I’m not ready for it to be the penultimate month of the year!

Dear Christmas. I suppose I’m actually going to have to start seriously thinking about you now if I want to get all my gifts bought in time! (And yes, it is possible to not think about Christmas while cross stitching snowmen and robins.)

Dear blogspot bloggers. I wish more of you would have the Name/URL options for comments! If I select the WordPress option, I always end up commenting as “confuzzledom” instead of Bevchen. I’m aware that’s partly my own fault for selecting differing user and blog names, but it’s still really annoying!

Dear everybody. Happy Halloween! I hope you have a great night, whether you choose to celebrate or not.

I’ll be back on Sunday and will answer any comments then. In the meantime, have a great weekend!


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35 Before 35: Progress report 3

It’s been a while since I last updated you on my 35 before 35 progress. Seven months, to be exact. Since then, I’ve actually done quite a bit, so I thought it was time for another summary.

Number 7: Complete a cross stitch picture for myself.

I finished this one in September. It’s actually four small pictures, but I’m allowing it to count. For various reasons, they’re not up on the wall yet, but I completed the stitching and that’s what counts!

One of the four pictures

One of the four pictures

Number 13:  Read (or re-read) 50 non-fiction books

I was on three last time and now I’m up to six! I read The Last Lingua Franca: English Until the Return of Babel by Nicholas Ostler, Captain James Cook by Richard Hough and The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester. The last one was quite short, but fascinating!

Number 14. Go back to Austria and finally try Marillenknödel.

I must be the only person ever who managed to live in Austria without trying this amazing traditional dish, which is why it ended up on my list. During our trip to Vienna in June, I finally managed to consume some, and they lived up to every one of my expectations!

Number 15: Read 30 books in German

The last time I updated, I’d read 10 books. Now I’m up to 17 thanks to my boss bringing in a load of German translations of Swedish crime novels that she wanted rid of. The alternative would have been for the books to go in the bin and there was no way I could let that happen! You can see what I’ve been reading in German here.

Number 18: Bake 10 different kinds of biscuits

I’ve only baked one more type of biscuit since my last update, but they were delicious! I baked Pistachio and Cranberry Cookies just a few weeks ago.

Number 20. Attend a world cup rugby match

Obviously there hasn’t been a rugby world cup since I last updated, so I haven’t completed this yet. But my dad phoned the other day to say his application for tickets had been successful so I’m going to all three of the matches at St James’ Park! We had originally asked for tickets to two matches, but my dad bought us some for the third anyway as our Christmas/birthday presents so we’re only paying him for two.

Number 21: Read all the books from the BBC Big Read that I hadn’t before starting this challenge

I was up to 8 (or 7 and two thirds) before, now I’m up to 9 (or 8 and two thirds). I still haven’t managed to finish the 3rd book in the His Dark Materials series because it’s too large to take on my commute and I’ve barely found time to read at home. I did read The Beach by Alex Garland though. I’m also still reading Middlemarch – I’m half way through now and it’s still boring as hell!

Number 29. Visit a continent I’ve never been to before.

Can you perchance guess what continent it was? Did my never-ending series of Taiwan posts maybe give you a clue? That’s right! I visited Asia for the first time in August.

Number 31. Watch 35 films I’ve never seen before.

This was originally 15 films, but after I watched film number 15 I decided that was too easy and changed it. Last time I updated you, I’d watched 5 films. Thanks to movie nights with friends, I’m now up to 16. You can see all the films I’ve watched here.

Aaaand that’s yer lot, for now. Not bad progress I have to say :-)


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Driving along Taiwan’s (North) East coast

Almost a month after returning from our trip, I’m finally getting round to posting the last installment in my recap!

Our final day in Taiwan was spent travelling back to the airport. To do this, we drove along the East coast from Hualien up to Taipei. Hualien is roughly in the middle of the country, so really it was more like the North-East coast.

Before we got properly underway, we stopped at Quingshui Cliff, which isn’t far from Hualien City. Quingshui is the highest coastal cliff in Taiwan. It stretches for a length of 21 km, but there’s a viweing area not far from Hualien, which is where we stopped. I think you’ll agree the view is stunning. Look how blue the water is! (It’s the Pacific Ocean, in case you were wondering)

Once we got back in the car, Jan asked me to take some photos while we were driving. Apparantly he has photos that were taken while driving along the Pacific coast in the US, so he wanted some from the other side of said ocean. I don’t think I did too bad a job with the following photos considering they were taken with a crappy camera from a moving car!

We stopped again at a viewing point that looks down on (I believe) Keeling harbour, then we had a final stop at a beach where people were surfing. For the first time on our trip we saw mostly non-Asian tourists! Of course not every other tourist elsewhere had been Asian, but there were a lot more of them about than “Westerners”.

See that last photo with the people on it? The island in the background is called Turtle Island. You can’t tell why from that photo though, so here’s another crappy “taken-while-driving” picture of it from the other side:

Taiwan

Finally, we drove back to Taipei. Jan had been talking about taro balls (taro is a kind of root vegetable, kind of like sweet potato) all week but we hadn’t been able to find them anywhere, so before heading to the airport he wanted to go back to the night market where he had eaten them. First, we needed to find somewhere to park, which was easier said then done! The sat nav kept telling us we’d already driven past the carpark we’d asked for directions to without us ever spotting said carpark! Finally, we managed to park by the main train station. From there, we took a Metro then walked for a bit until we reached the night market, the last one we would visit in Taiwan. Taro is sweet, so before buying that we went fr some dumplings. This time they weren’t bread dumplings but a kind of pasta-like dough. The filling was delicious pork! We enjoyed them so much that, after our first basket, we ordered another. In fact, I would like to eat more of those dumplings right now! That’s how good they were.

So tasty!

So tasty!

Once we were done with the dumplings, we went and stood in the looong queue for taro balls (apparantly they’re popular!). Jan bought some plain ones and some that were filled with pickled egg yolk. I preferred the plain ones – the egg tasted rubbery to me. The plain ones were a bit like doughnut on the outside but then the inside tasted almost like bean curd. It was a bit odd! I certainly wouldn’t have raved about them the way Jan did, but oh well. I was pleased he got to have some again before we left.

Time was getting on by then, so we went and picked up the car then drove it back to the car rental place. From there, one of their staff members drove us back to the airport. The check-in desk wasn’t open yet, so we went and looked at the gift shop and I bought some sweet potato cakes to bring back to work (they tasted odd, for anyone who’s wondering). Then we finally checked in, bought ourselves a drink on the other side and, before long, it was time to board our plane. And thus ends our Taiwanese adventure! It’s a shame we didn’t get to visit the south of the island – I’ve heard Alishan is amazing! But a week just isn’t long enough. Hopefully one day I’ll make it back.

~I am counting Taiwan as my August 2014 trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge with Clare from Need Another Holiday. It also counts towards my 35 Before 35 challenge, item: Visit a continent I’ve never been to before.~

For those who missed them, here are my other Taiwan recap posts:

  1. Initial Thoughts on Taiwan
  2. Taipei, Taiwan
  3. 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan and Sun Moon Lake by Night
  4. Sun Moon lake and driving through the mountains
  5. Hiking in Taroko National Park


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Guess the Christmas cross stitch: The solution

Thank you to everyone who took part in my little cross stitch guessing game. I had lots of fun reading your guesses. You’re all completely mad! (I mean that in the most complimentary possible way, of course.) Before I get on with revealing the answer, here are your guesses from the third and final round. The picture I gave you to work with was this:

cross stitch 3

First to enter a guess was Elaine, who thought it was “a fair-haired child in a blue coat pushing a sled”. Close, Elaine. Very close!

Katrin thought it was “a dinosaur who wants to jump on a sled”. Unfortunately not, although I think that would make a great Christmas card for a small boy!

Polly guessed “a Smurf sledding”. Apparantly the merest hint of blue has all my readers obsessing about Smurfs ;-)

Steffi agreed with Elaine: “a child (girl?) pulling a sled”. That little word “pulling” brought Steffi even closer to the right answer than Elaine, but still not quite there.

Becster also agreed with Elaine (but didn’t mention whether the child was pushing or pulling the sled).

And finally, Charlotte came up with the very creative idea of “a superhero flying on a sled with his (or her) cape flapping in the wind”. I like this guess, but unfortunately it’s not the right answer.

And now, here’s what I was really stitching:

cross stitch snowman

A snowman, wearing a blue coat and pulling a sled (I just realised I forgot to backstitch the rope he’s pulling it by!). The yellow that fooled you all into thinking it was a fair-haired child actually belongs to his hat! I hope you all enjoyed my little game. Maybe we can do it again some time :-)


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Breakfast at Sukie’s

Remember Sukie’s cake shop, home of Karlsruhe’s one and only cream tea? Well, while I was looking at the Facebook page and website in preparation for the post I’ve just linked to, I read that they also do breakfast on weekends. Obviously this needed to be tried (the description included  bacon!), and when I mentioned it to Jan he suggested we go that very weekend. So last Sunday found Jan, myself and our friend K turning up at Sukie’s bright an early. We decided to go with something savoury first then move on to something sweet. For the first course, we ordered srambled eggs with bacon. What turned up was this:

bacon and eggs

All that for three people! There was also toast, fried tomatoes and, of course, a pot of tea each. The eggs were delicious and the bacon had just the perfect amount of crispiness. I’m getting hungry now just remembering it! Mmmmm.

For our sweet course, we chose scones, which came with clotted cream, jam and lemon curd. The scones came in blueberry and cranberry varieties… here’s a blueberry one before being creamed and jammed:

blueberry scone

After all that, we were absolutely stuffed so sadly didn’t get to find out about the pancakes that were also on offer. I’ll just have to go back again another day ;-)


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Gastroscopy and Friday letters

Hi all! Well, as you may or may not know, I had a gastroscopy last Friday – i.e. a doctor shoved a tube down my throat and into my stomach then used a camera to look at my insides. I was sedated during the procedure, so the last thing I remember is being asked to bite on a plastic thing with a hole in the middle. The next thing I knew I was waking up, still feeling a bit groggy and slightly sick, but that soon wore off. In fact, the worst part of the ordeal was having the needles put in for the sedation – the first assistant couldn’t get them in, so she tried once on each arm before going and fetching her older colleague. I ended up with matching bruises on both arms!Thanks for that, assistant woman. So if you’re ever told you need a gastroscopy,don’t worry – it’s not so bad! As for findings. Well, my stomach is (or was) slightly irritated but everything else looked normal and I didn’t have any of the usual signs of refulx. However, I’ve been given some tablets (blue and white ones which I’m referring to as Smurf tablets!) and either they’re helping or it’s coincidence and I would have got better by myself anyway. Hmm. Either way, I seem to be able to eat most foods again now. I even had some American-style cheesecake yesterday (made by a colleague) and it was delicious!

And now on to Friday letters… I know that’s what you came here for ;-)

lettersDear weather. On Sunday, I went out without a jacket, this morning it was 6°C and foggy. What is going on?!

Dear work. You have been incredibly busy again this week, which is admittedly better than having nothing to do, but I’m glad I have next Friday off!

Dear Paris. I shall be seeing you next Friday! I hope you’re kinder to me than last time I went.

Dear “Welcome to Night Vale”. You are the reason we’re coming to Paris. I hope you live up to our expectations!

Dear winter reading challenge. I can’t wait for you to start! I already have a few of my books and it’s taking all my willpower to resist reading them before 1st November!

Dear #Take12Trips. I haven’t forgotten about you, honest! My final Taiwan post will be up very soon…

That’s all from me for today. Have a great weekend everyone!

~ Linking up with Kate (formerly of The Lotus Creative, now blogging at Relokate) for Daily Diaries. ~


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Guess the Christmas Cross Stitch: Round 3

This will be your last picture to guess on before I give you the big reveal, so if you can’t guess what I’m stitching based on this, tough luck ;-) But first I shall give you the answers to the last round. This was the photo I gave you:

cross stitch

And these are your guesses:
Elaine stuck with her theme from the first round and guessed “a chimney pot and a sack of presents”. I’m afraid not, Elaine.

Simone, aka Lady of the Cakes came up with “blue headed tapir about to eat a Kitkat”. It’s better than pervy smurfs at least!

Frau Dietz thought it might be “Sonic the Hedgehog catching a fly”. Did he catch flies? I seem to remember some random flying insect in the computer games…

Someone calling themselves xoxo said “It looks like a blue car driving on a red road.”. I can kind of see were they were coming from with the car, but it’s not that.

Lily Lau said “Humm… I think it’s a sledge with some snow besides it and a huge blue bag full of presents!”. She’s obviously been talking to Elaine ;-)

Katrin said “I think it is a squirrel next to a chimney who is about to jump.” Now I want to stitch a Christmas squirrel for real!

Amanda from Rhyme and Ribbons guessed “A bluebird with a red light saber for sure!”. I love this guess, but sadly it’s wrong.

Kate had no clue, so we’ll move on to Linda. “So, it’s a blue cat, dragging a red ribbon somewhere. Maybe the North Pole – would explain the blueness of the cat.” Indeed… I would probably be blue if I was at the North Pole!

Polly suggested “a blue dog/raccoon hybrid eating a brick”, which had me trying to imagine what that would look like for the next few hours!

Jessica Jane’s answer was “someone about to jump on a sled in the snow”. Warmer than some is all I’m saying ;-)

And finally, Charlotte went for “A blue snowman sticking his tongue out!”. My mental image of this looks so cute :-D

Now onto the third and final picture. Just say what you see, folks. Say what you see!

cross stitch 3

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