Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Semi-Charmed Winter 2014 Reading Challenge – updated preliminary list

I wrote an initial preliminary list of books to read for the Winter 2014 Reading Challenge the day the categories came out (I got a bit overexcited), but today is the day of the preliminary lists linkup and I’ve had some more time to think about what to read, so here is my updated preliminary list. Books subject to change depending on what I can get hold of cheaply and whether my picks actually turn out to have enough pages to count for the challenge…

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that fits the general rules. – To be decided

10 points: Read a book written by an author who has published at least 10 books. – So many authors! I’ll have to let you know on this one too.

10 points: Read a book of short stories. –  Different Seasons by Stephen King (hopefully novellas are short enough to count!)

10 points: Read a book with a food in the title. — Coffee is not a food, so I’m still thinking about this one. I’ve found a few possibilities so will have to see what I can get hold of cheaply.

15 points: Read the first book in a series that is new to you (so no rereads for this one!). — The Various by Steve Augarde. I bought this a while ago but hadn’t read it yet and I just discovered that it’s the first in a trilogy. Perfect!

15 points: Read a book that was originally written in a language that is not your native language. — I’m thinking of reading a book in German that was originally written in French for this. I hope that doesn’t make me seem like a show off!

15 points: Read a book written by a local author (either an author from your state if you live in the United States, or from your country if you live somewhere else). — Technically I only  need a German author, but I’m going to try and find a Karlsruhe one for this. To be confirmed.

20 points: Read a “bookish book” (in which books play an important role, e.g. the setting involves a bookstore or library, a major character is an author, or a book that celebrates reading and books. Examples: The Book Thief, The Shadow of the Wind, The Thirteenth Tale, etc.) — The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows.

20 points: Read a book with a direction in the title (e.g. north, south, east, west or any combination of those). — I’ve orded a book called  Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea. I hope it arrives soon!

25 points: Read a book from a genre you don’t usually read. — I went through several “genre” book lists on Good Reads and didn’t find a single genre where I hadn’t read anything! I think science fiction is probably my least read genre though, and Jan has suggested Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, so that’s currently my plan.

25 points: Read a book with a song lyric in the title. Be sure to tell us the song name and artist as well! — My current ideas are A Room With a View by E. M. Forster  (song A Room With a View by Danish singer Tina Dico) or Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer (song of the same name by Sara Bareilles). I’m still kind of hoping to find something more interesting though, i.e. where the book title is a lyric from a song without book and song having the exact same title.

30 points: Read two books with a different meal in each title (e.g. breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, brunch). — I am hopefully going to read The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams for this (sequel to Dirk Gently’ Holistic Detective Agency), but I have a horrible feeling it may have less then 200 pages… For my second book, I’ve chosen Lunch Money by Andrew Clements. It’s actually surprisingly difficult to find books with meals in the title!

If you are joining in with the challenge, write a post with your preliminary reading list then head over to Megan’s blog to link up. Looking forward to seeing what you’re all going to be reading this winter!


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The Liebster Award (again)

Dubliner in Deutschland nominated me for a Liebster award. Thank you my dear! :-)

liebster-award 1

I’ve been given the Liebster award before, but usually the rules say to list some number of facts about myself and that’s haaaard ;-) With this version, I’m supposed to answer some questions set by the person who nominated me and then make up some questions of my own before passing on the award. Here are the questions from Dubliner and my answers:

  1. What do you mostly blog about?
    Everything! Although I suppose books, travel and food are my top three themes.
  2. What do you love about blogging?
    The community. I love reading/responding to comments and seeing what my favoruite bloggers have been up to. But I also like that it gives me an outlet for my thoughts. Even if I didn’t have a single reader I would keep blogging to save myself from insanity.
  3. What is your favourite movie?
    I have to pick just one? That’s impossible!I can narrow it down to three for you, but no further (and please don’t ask me to put these three in order!). 1. The Princess Bride, 2. Clue, 3 The Crow
  4. What makes you happy?
    many things! Sunshine (as long as it’s not toooo hot), spending time with my boyfriend, spending time with friends (and also actually having people to call friends!), good food, dogs, seeing the red pandas when I walk past the zoo…
  5. Tea or coffee?
    Tea! I am British after all ;-) When I drink coffee it has to be drowned in milk and preferably flavoured.
  6. Do you have a favourite song?
    That’s even harder than the films! There are so many good songs. I’ll give you four, okay? 1. Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler, 2. No Time to Sleep by Tina Dico, 3. Quick Fade by Feeder, 4. Belgium by Bowling for Soup.
  7. What’s the last book you read?
    The Surgeon of Crawthorne by Simon Winchester It’s the story of the making of the Oxford English Dictionary and one of its main contributers, an American who was imprisoned in Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. Very interesting. I can recommend it.
  8. Name three places you would love to travel to, if money were no object.
    Canada, Japan and Denmark
  9. Why did you start blogging?
    My first blog was an MSN space (later MSN Live Space) that came with my e-mail address. I started using it out of curiosity, having no real idea what it was. Later, I used it to blog about my time in Austria. I started this blog shortly after I moved back to Germany. I was bored, basically friendless and my boyfriend was busy writing his Diplom (German version a Master’s) thesis, so I started a new blog to keep myself occupied and get my thoughts out of my brain – hence my tagline.
  10. What’s your favourite post that you’ve written? (Link, please!)
    You Know You’re Turning German When… is the first one that comes to mind.

I nominate:

Beth from Ami in Schwabenland
Marianne from Californienne
Becster
Sophie from Sophie in Clogs
Molly from The Move to America

And now here are my questions (only 5 because I’m not imaginative enough to think of a whole 10!):

  1. What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2014?
  2. What is your favourite food to eat in autumn/winter?
  3. Where was the last place you travelled to?
  4. What is your favoruite snack food?
  5. If you could learn any language (and were guaranteed to actually manage it!), which would it be?


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Guess the Christmas cross stitch: round 2

There were some interesting guesses for round 1 of my little game! (You can see the original post here). Here are your guesses in the order I received them:

First up is Lady of the Cakes, who I’m 90% sure only made this guess so I would have to type it onto my blog. I don’t even want to know what search terms this will result in… “Smurf about to come all over a KitKat“. Strangely enough, no that is not the answer! And I sincerely hope nobody was reading this post while eating a KitKat…

Elaine from I Used to be Indecisive guessed “A sleigh with a sack of presents on the back”. Not the right answer Elaine, but much closer than Simone’s!

Sara Louise guessed “A chimney with blue smoke coming out of it“, which would at least be sort of Christmassy. Not the right answer though ;-)

Linda of Expat Eye on Germany (and the instigator of this game) suggested “Jack  Frost nipping at a very rectangular robin red breast“. Better than pervert smurfs anyway ;-)

Katrin said it was obviously “a cigarette with blue smoke“, but since that wouldn’t be very Christmassy added a second guess: A hand coming out of a chimney. A blue hand, obviously.

Charlotte’s guess was “A blue robin sat on a twig!“. I’ve seen cross stitches of blue owls, so why not robins?

And finally, Aussa Lorens said “Definitely a NO SMOKING sign, Xmas style.“. I’m sensing a theme here!

Now for round two. Here’s a new photo taken during the stitching process. Maybe you’ll have better luck guessing the cross stitch based on this picture:

cross stitch

Enter your guesses in the comments. If nobody gets it right, I’ll have one more picture after this then I’ll reveal the answer.


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2014 Winter Reading Challenge

Remember when I took part in a reading challenge this summer? Well, it was so much fun that I knew I would have to take part in Megan’s next reading challenge. The categories for the winter challenge have just been released, and I’m excited to share my preliminary list with you.

First, the rules:

  • The challenge will run from November 1, 2014, to February 28, 2015. No books that are started before 12 a.m. on November 1 or finished after 11:59 p.m. on February 28 will count.
  • Each book must be at least 200 pages long. Audiobooks are fine, as long as the print versions meet the page requirements. Large-print books are also acceptable, as long as the regular-print version exceeds 200 pages in length.
  • A book can only be used for one category, and each category can only be completed once. If you want to switch the category of a book during a later check-in, that’s fine, just be sure to account for that in your point total.
  • Rereads can be used for a maximum of three books in the challenge. This rule is meant to encourage you to try new books while still allowing you to revisit books from your childhood or young adulthood that you might get more out of now. Please reread the entire book within the timeframe of the challenge in order to count it; no simply finishing old books or partial rereads (unless the category explicitly states otherwise, of course)!
  • The highest possible total is 200 points, and the first five people who finish the challenge will be invited to contribute a category for the next challenge.

And now, here are the categories and my first ideas on what to read for them:

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that fits the general rules. – I’ll decide this later

10 points: Read a book written by an author who has published at least 10 books. – So many authors! I’ll have to let you know on this one too.

10 points: Read a book of short stories. - Do novellas count as short stores? Because if so I have Different Seasons by Stephen King waiting to be read…

10 points: Read a book with a food in the title. — Does coffee count as a food, I wonder?

15 points: Read the first book in a series that is new to you (so no rereads for this one!). — I don’t have any ideas for this one yet. Suggestions anyone?

15 points: Read a book that was originally written in a language that is not your native language. — I’m thinking of reading a book in German that was originally written in French for this. I hope that doesn’t make me seem like a show off!

15 points: Read a book written by a local author (either an author from your state if you live in the United States, or from your country if you live somewhere else). — Megan has clarified that she wants us to choose an author local to where we are currently living, so that would be Germany for me.

20 points: Read a “bookish book” (in which books play an important role, e.g. the setting involves a bookstore or library, a major character is an author, or a book that celebrates reading and books. Examples: The Book Thief, The Shadow of the Wind, The Thirteenth Tale, etc.) — I now wish I hadn’t already read Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookshop as soon as it arrived! I’m probably going to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows for this one since I’ve had it on my list for a few years now.

20 points: Read a book with a direction in the title (e.g. north, south, east, west or any combination of those). — Not sure about this one yet either.

25 points: Read a book from a genre you don’t usually read. — This is difficult because there aren’t really any genres I won’t read – if a book sounds good (or is the only one available to me), I’ll read it. The genre I read least is probably science fiction though, so I suppose I’ll choose something from that. Or maybe a war story.

25 points: Read a book with a song lyric in the title. Be sure to tell us the song name and artist as well! — Submitted by Daire, who was kind enough to provide several example books, as this challenge is quite tricky! A few possibilities include: Pop Goes the Weasel by James Patterson (English nursery rhyme of the same name), The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes (“Girl You Left Behind,” Pixie Lott), or Somewhere Only We Know by Cheyanne Young (“Somewhere Only We Know,” Keane). – The book doesn’t have to have been named after the song, or even have come after the song so I’m thinking of reading A Room With a View by E. M. Forster (as long as it has enough pages!) The song A Room With a View is by Danish singer Tina Dico. Alternatively, I may read Between the Lines by  and Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer. The song of the same name is by Sara Bareilles.

30 points: Read two books with a different meal in each title (e.g. breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, brunch). — I want to read The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams for this one (tea time is a meal where I come from!). Again, it depends whether it has enough pages though. And I haven’t found a second book for the category yet.

If you would like to join in, Megan will be hosting a link-up on Wednesday, 22 October for people to share their preliminary reading lists. In the meantime, you can read up on the rules and categories again on Megan’s blog, Semi-Charmed Kind of Life. Use the hashtag #SCWBC14 to talk about the challenge on Twitter, Instagram, etc.


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Friday letters and links

Good morning! I’m working from home again this morning as I have an appointment with the gastroentologist at 12:30 so it wasn’t worth going in to the office. I’m getting a gastroscopy, which involves the doctor sticking a tube down my throat and having a look inside my stomach, so I was told not to eat at all today and I’ve now had my last drink as well – at least I was allowed to have some water this morning! Hopefully they’ll discover there’s something very simple wrong with me, give me some tablets and within a few days I’ll be eating normally again. Fingers crossed! Now lets have some letters.

letters

Dear Deutsche Bahn. I hope Wednesday was your last strike for a while. If you mess up my trip to Paris at the end of the month I shall be very annoyed!

Dear pumpkin. I am really enjoying cooking with you! I just wish you weren’t so annoying to cut up.

Dear stomach problems. I hope you turn out to be nothing serious. Although if the doctor’s fail to find any explanation that would kind of suck.

Dear work. I am so lucky to have a flexible employer who allows me to work from home when trains aren’t running and leave early for appointments, and also to have a job I love I will forever be grateful to you for the past few weeks!

Dear future. Things are so up in the air at the moment, but I’m really hoping a decision will be made soon so I can start to plan!

Now here are some links to things I’ve come across on the Internet lately and want to share with everyone:

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

 

 

 

 


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Carrot and ginger soup with coconut milk

soupAs regular readers will know, I have recently been having some problems with my stomach. For over a week, the only foods I could eat without immediately being in pain were plain porridge made with water (yuk!) and plain couscous with a bit of spinach stirred in. Exciting, no? Towards the middle of week two, I started to feel able to introduce slightly more flavourful foods to my diet, so I decided to make some soup. Being already blended, I thought it would be easy enough to digest while allowing my taste buds to get some action again! I enjoyed the soup so much that I knew I would have to make it again. So  when my stomach started playing up again yesterday (apparantly greasy fish and chips at the Irish pub weren’t its friend), I did, and this time remembered to record it for my blog. So here is my recipe for Carrot and Ginger Soup with Coconut Milk (completely made up by me – if there are similar soups already on the internet it’s entirely coincidence!). I apologise in advance for the crappy photos (even more crappy than usual that is). My camera is in the process of dying a slow and painful death…

Carrot and Ginger Soup with Coconut Milk

Step 1: Gather your ingredients

Step 1: Gather your ingredients

Ingredients (serves 2 as a main meal with bread)
5 or 6 carrots (750g)
1 medium potato (200g)
Fresh ginger
1 tin of coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Put some water in a pan and set it on to boil (or boil some water in the kettle and pour it into a pan)
2. Peel the potato and all but one carrot (two if they’re small ones) and dice them into small pieces, then place them in the boiling water and cook until soft.

Dicing

3. Drain out the water then place the potatoes and carrots in a blender (or back in the pan if using a hand blender) and blend to a purree.

Blending

4. Return the purree to the pan and grate in about a teaspoon of fresh ginger – sorry I can’t be more precise with the measurement. I just chopped a chunk off and grated it! – (or stir in some powdered ginger if that’s all you’ve got – I won’t tell anyone), then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper
5. Place the pan back on the hob on a low heat and stir in the tin of coconut milk
6. While the mixture is heating, peel the remaining carrots then grate them into the pan. Once all the carrot is grated, stir it in and immediately remove the pan from the heat.

Grate in the remaining carrot

7. Check the seasoning, add more if required, then serve the soup along with some bread.

The step with the grated carrot is optional – if you prefer, you can purree all the carrots. Personally, I like the texture the grated carrot adds and I like to kid myself that it makes the soup more healthy because it ends up practically raw so none of the vitamins can have been cooked out yet ;-)

This soup is gluten free, dairy free and both vegetarian and vegan, so basically perfect for almost everyone.


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Guess the Christmas cross stitch

The lovely Linda asked me whether I’d be allowing people to guess what I’m cross stitching again this year. I hadn’t really thought about it at the time, but once the idea was in my head I was obviously going to make use of it eventually. I’m only working on Christmas cards at the moment, so the picture is only a small one but I think we can have some fun with it anyway. So, any idea what this is eventually going to be?

cross stitch

I feel a bit bad giving you so little to go with, but on the other hand I want the game to last for more than one round so that’s all you’re getting ;-) Make your guesses in the comments and in a few days I’ll reveal whether anyone has guessed it already and, if not, post another photo.

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