Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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A bit of stitching…

This still isn’t the post I wanted to write yesterday, but it’s a post so that’s better than nothing.
At the end of last year, I dound myself getting really fed up with cross stitch, so in January I decided to start making some smaller projects that I would actually be able to finish in less than five months! Spending ages stitching the same thing had been getting really frustrating, and the idea of actually achieving something was very appealing. So I started stitching cards for various occasions that were coming up. The first was my paternal grandmother’s birthday at the end of January.

Bear card

She loves gardening and cute things, so this little bear seemed perfect for her. The watering can was actually supposed to be a different shade of green, but I didn’t have the right threads so I just made it up.

You’ve already seen the card I made Jan for Valentine’s Day, so next up is a daisy that I stitched for my other grandma’s birthday in March. I actually messed up at one point and had to improvise. Can you tell where?

Daisy

Finally, my most recent completed project – a Mother’s Day card for my mum. This one was difficult! So much complicated backstitch. But I managed… and I’m actually quite proud of how it turned out.

Mother's Day

So there you have it, my 2014 cross stitching so far. My current project is an Easter card that I’m working on for a friend, then I’ll be doing some baby cards for a few people I know who are due in May. Busy, busy, busy!

 


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Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

cupcakeSaturday was Jan’s birthday, and on Sunday I felt like baking… perfect timing for Jan to be able to take something in for his colleagues today. I didn’t want to make a full on cake, so I decided on chocolate cupcakes using a recipe that I’ve had for ages and is really easy to follow. I found the original recipe on BBC Food years ago, but I can’t provide you with a link because it doesn’t seem to be on there any more. Buuut I’ve adapted the recipe to suit my own purposes over the years, which means it’s mine now and posting it here without a link won’t be breaking any copyright laws, right? Right? Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
220g butter
220 g caster sugar
220g self-raising flour OR 220g plain flour plus 1.5 teaspoons baking powder (plus half a tsp of bicarbonate of soda, if you have it)
4 eggs, beaten (mine were medium, but I’ve used large before)
15g cocoa powder
30g chocolate chips
A few drops of vanilla extract

For the frosting:
125g soft butter
210g icing sugar, sifted (the sifting is important or the frosting will have lumps of icing sugar in)
125g plain chocolate
1 tsp cocoa powder

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add the cocoa powder and blend it into the other ingredients, then stir in the chocolate chips and vanilla extract.

3. Add the eggs and stir well (don’t worry if it looks a bit lumpy at this stage).

4. Gradually fold in the flour until you’re left with a thick paste that looks a bit like chocolate mousse.

5. Place heaped teaspoons of the mixture into cupcake cases in a bun tray and bake for around 15 minutes until risen and bouncy when touched. The mixture makes around 24-26 cupcakes, depending on how much of the mixture you eat before it makes it to the oven (what? I know I’m not the only one that does that…). Once the cupcakes are baked, leave then to cool while you make your frosting.

Fresh out of the oven (if they look flat in this picture, it's the camera angle. I swear they had actually risen!)

Fresh out of the oven (if they look flat in this picture, it’s the camera angle. I swear they had actually risen!)

6. Melt the plain chocolate in a bowl over a pan of water (or in the microwave if you have such a thing…)

7. While the chocolate is melting, cream together the butter and icing sugar.

8. Add the melted chocolate the sugar and butter and stir everything together well.

9. Add a teaspoon of cocoa powder and stir until all the powder is properly blended in.

10. Place a teaspoon of the frosting on each cupcake and spread it with a knife (or pipe it on if you want your icing to end up looking better than mine… I preferred the less washing up option!).

Chocolate cupcakes and chocolate frosting

Chocolate cupcakes and chocolate frosting

11. You can either leave the cupcakes as they are now or decorate them as you see fit. Apparantly, I saw fit to sprinkle stars on mine in an incredibly haphazard manner. I could claim it’s supposed to be artistic but we all know it was sheer laziness…

Seeing stars...

Seeing stars…

12. Leave the frosting to cool/set for a bit then enjoy your cupcakes!


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In which I make blue cake…

As some of you wioll know, the British TV series Dr Who celebrated its 50th birthday on Saturday. That day also just happened to be the birthday of one of my friends, and in the invitation to the party he suggested that people might want to wear “a bow tie or something blue that’s bigger on the inside than the outside…”. I’m not sure most people got the reference, but I did. I may not have seen a single episode of Dr Who, ever, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know some things about it. It is embedded in my culture, after all. And I spent half my childhood being afraid I might accidently catch an episode and see the Daleks. Those things are terrifying when you’re six! But I digress…

Some of us started talking about what things we could do for the occasion, and in a moment of what I can only assume was temporary insanity, I volunteered to make a cake… a blue cake! (The cake part alone wouldn’t be insane. I like making cake, but blue cake was a new one!). After a couple of experiments, I finally hit upon a recipe that I liked and that resulted in a reasonably decent shade of blue, so on Saturday morning, the baking commenced…

blue cake

I admit the outside doesn’t look very blue… but it had after all been baked, so what do you expect? And you can see some blue shimmering through the brown.
For the topping and filling, I used vanilla cream cheese frosting, because there is no better icing! If there is a heaven, I’m pretty sure it’s a place where you can eat vanilla cream cheese frosting by the bowlful and not end up feeling sick!

Yum yum!

Yum yum!

Icing done, it was time to decorate. Unfortunately, all my blue food colouring was in the cake, so I had to make do with what limited other supplies I had… Germany is mostly disappointing when it comes to cake decorating equipment! But I did what I could with colourful sugar confetti and stars…

Tardis cake

A little wonky, but at least it’s recognisable! Here, have a close up:

Tardis cake decoration

Clearly that photo was taken before I put the stars on, so I’ve inserted the last two in the wrong order but nobody cares about that, do they?
And just so you can see that it really was blue(ish) inside, here is my cake later that evening…

Blue cake

As for the taste… it was pretty darn good, even if I do say so myself!


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So, I got my poppadoms

After all the talk of poppadoms and Indian takeaways right here on my blog, there was no way I was going to get through Friday without one! So I texted Jan the message “Want to meet me for curry tonight? I really fancy one!”. His response was “Sure, where?”, and so he left work relatively early and met me for Indian foods. He ended up going back to work afterwards, but that didn’t bother me… I was fed and watered by that time. Well, mango lassied anyway…

Papadums

I was too busy stuffing my face to take photos, so you’ll have to make do with someone elses… (Photo credit: Renée S. Suen)

The place we went to is called Continent. If you go there straight from England expecting the kind of curry you would get at home, I can guarantee you will be disappointed. But the food is reasonably tasty and at €8.90 for the all-yo-can-eat buffet, I’m not complaining. And anyway, they have poppadoms (which is what I was mostly craving) and some very nice Naan bread, so it’s all good. Basically, it’s a budget place and it shows… perfect for students and other people who don’t have a lot to spend. Oh, and it caters to German tastes, so the so-called “Lamb Vindaloo” was roughly as spicy as your average chicken tikka masala… The vegetable pakoras are… odd. They literally slice up some vegetables (courgettes, onions and potatoes as far as I can tell) and coat each individual slice in batter before deep frying it. The shape and size of the potato ones makes them basically battered chips (fries). I’m pretty sure that’s not how pakoras are done in the UK? But what do I know… I’m not Indian. And they’re still tasty even if they’re nothing like any pakora I’ve ever seen.

I don’t think they do anything vegan, but the buffet has 4 or 5 things that are suitable for vegetarians and I assume there’s more on the main menu (I keep telling myself that I’m going to order a full meal from them one day, but the idea of trying everything on the buffet is always too tempting…). So if you’re ever in Karlsruhe and fancy eating something vaguely Indian without spending too much money, you can do worse than a trip to Continent. The food there is certainly a million times better than the place we went to in Rottweil

Farscape

Farscape (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, we travelled to Germersheim (a village an hour’s tram ride away) for a birthday party. I ate a delicious panino with goat’s cheese, honey and sun-dried tomatoes. Then we came home, watched an episode of Farscape and ordered pizza for tea… or technically supper, I suppose. It was around 10 p.m. by that time. Yes, I’m pleased to report that 16 days after removal of my wisdom teeth I finally managed to eat pizza again! Hurrah.

The plan for today is to rearrange some of the living room furniture… whenever Jan decides to get out of bed, that is…

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you’ve all had an enjoyable weekend, too!


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Friday letters (post op)

Oh, hi! I thought I’d come online to let youl all know I’m alive. Forgive me for not coming to visit your  or replying to all your comments though – I’m still not up to spending too long in front of the computer!

English: Letter box.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Dear wisdom teeth: Goodbye and good riddance!

Dear godson. Happy 1st birthday! Have a wonderful day. P.S. Stop growing up so fast!

Dear food. I can’t wait to feel like eating you again!

Dear blood. You do not taste nice! Just saying…

Dear everyone. Thanks for all the well wishes. I currently look like a squirrel (or hamster), but the operation went well and I Hope to be properly back to blogging soon!

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Photobucket


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Friday Letters: I just want to sleep!!

I have been exhausted all week. Exhausted I’m telling you! And I have no idea why. I’ve actually managed to get to bed at a reasonable-ish time every night this week (before 11 anyway). This never happens and is the reason I’m pretty much always tired. And now, the one week that I actually manage to get some sleep (mainly because I didn’t have the energy to do anything other than go to bed!) I’m even more tired than usual. What’s that all about?! Meh.
Anyway… letters time.

Mailbox

Photo credit: Toronto Rob

Dear weekend. Welcome back It seems like forever since I last saw you!

Dear little brother. Happy Birthday for Sunday. Seven years old already… unbelievable.

Dear Bierbörse (annual beer festival thing). I may be exhausted, but I’m still coming to visit you tonight.

worcester sauce crisps

It’s a good job these aren’t permanently available in Germany… (Photo credit: leff)

Dear Karstadt. Loving your British Isles week! (And thank you K for telling me about it). I came in intending to only buy one or two little things, but that went right out the window when I discovered the Walkers crisps. Chicken flavour? Worcester Sauce flavour? Prawn Cocktail flavour? Get in my belly!!! (I *may* also have purchased Digestive Biscuits and Liquorice Allsorts… and be considering going back tomorrow for Cadburys chocolate and some tins of Spaghetti Loops…)

Dear coffee machine. Suddenly, I’m extremely glad I used some of my Bahn Bonus points to get you. Caffeine will definitely be needed before I go out!

Dear work. You keep switching between ridiculously quiet – to the point where I struggle to find anything to do –  and stupidly busy… as in loads of overtime busy. Could you maybe find a happy medium?

That’s all from me. I actually need to do some work now ;-) Have a wonderful weekend everybody!

Photobucket


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Friday letters… again?!

This has been one of the longest weeks of my life (colleague on holiday + large translation job = stress) but it still seems like only two minutes since the last time I posted Friday letters. With only nine days left until the end of September, I find myself wondering once again where on Earth this year has gone!! And it’s showing no signs of slowing down. *Sigh*.  Anyway…

Letters

Dear friends (and boyfriend). Thank you for the amazing “bee-day” party. It was a lovely surprise.

Dear Amazon seller. Please hurry up and send me my goods so I can post them to England in time for my little brother’s birthday…

Dear little brother. I cannot believe you’re turning 7 already! I remember you as a tiny baby who had to stay in hospital for weeks because you came way too early. Time flies!

Dear weekend. I am hoping you will be less hectic than the last one! No plans for you so far… other than the usual shopping/cooking/cleaning, that is…

Dear boyfriend. I basically haven’t seen you this week, so I’m pleased we’ve made a few tentative plans for September. I just hope we can find the time to finalise them!

That’s all folks. My lunch break is over. Have a great weekend!
(I’m including Ashley’s button although she probably won’t be hosting Friday’s letters for a while seeing as she’s just had a baby and all!)

Photobucket


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Friday letter(s): To my mam

Just one letter this Friday, to my mother who turns 50 today.

Mum I love you xxxxxx

Photo credit: Andreas-photography

Dear Mam,
When I said I would be attending your 50th birthday while in England, a lot of people were surprised. Other people my age have parents who are already in their 60s… sometimes even late 60s. But you always were younger than most of my friends’ parents. Mostly, I thought that was a good thing – you were always so much more fun than those other stuffy, responsible adults, and now I’m older I love that I can go out for a drink or a shopping trip for you and actually feel like we have something in common. But our relationship hasn’t always been this great. For a lot of my childhood, my sister and I were basically left to raise ourselves (and later I helped raise my brother). I was 8 the first time I made tea for the three of us (sausages, chips and beans!) and started babysitting at around the same time I started secondary school. Even before that, one of the local teenagers would come and look after us every Friday and Saturday night. For a long time, I resented that. Looking back now, as an almost 30 year old, I still can’t 100% agree with everything you did back then, but I can certainly understand it a lot better. Going from living at home with your parents in the place you’d been brought up to being an army wife and new mother in a strange town within the space of 6 months can’t have been easy for you! And no matter what you did “wrong”, you always came through when it was important – whether it was baking a cake for the school fair, showing up to cheer us on at sports day, providing money (that we technically didn’t have) so I could go on school trips or driving me to and from sea cadets every Friday. And throughout everything else, I don’t think any of us ever doubted that you loved us. HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY MAMMY! Here’s to many, many more.
Love you!
Beverley xxx


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Friday letters

Another Friday (hurrah!)… another round of letters from me to the world.

lettres

Photo credit: christing-O-

Dear snow. You looked very pretty this morning and I wanted to take photos, but I was already running late to catch my train. Please stick around til I can get out there with my camera.

Dear new boots. You are beautiful and I can’t wait to show you off! (Post with pictures to follow soon).

1° Flickr-compleanno. 1st Flickr-birthday.

Photo credit: mao_lini

Dear S. Happy first birthday! I can’t believe you’re one already! This year has gone so fast…

Dear unread books. I see you eyeing me up from the bookcase every time I walk passed. Please be patient – I promise to get round to you soon. (Pride and Prejudice, you’re next. You can stop glowering at me now ;-))

Dear self. STOP SPENDING MONEY! And yes, that did need to be in caps!

Dear readers. Thank you for sticking around despite all the “I’m going to be 30 soon” and “All my friends are having babies” induced whining I’ve been doing lately. You are all amazing.

Dear TV. We are hopefully coming to get you this weekend. I can’t wait to be able to watch DVDs on a proper screen!

PhotobucketI hope you all have a great weekend, however you’re planning to spend it. I’m at a party tonight and hoping to spend the remainder of the weekend getting a lot further with my current cross stitch picture!


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Six months to go!

29 1/2

My 30th birthday is exactly six months today.

Last year, I thought nothing could be worse than 29. After my 29th birthday, I knew that none of the things I would have liked to have done before 30 was happening. Have a baby? Only if I managed to get pregnant within 3 months of my birthday. Even if we’d decided to try the chances of someone who’s been on the pill for 10 years getting pregnant straight away are fairly low. Get married? Sure, if I was willing to forego the whole being engaged part – and the bit where I get to arrange my dream wedding – and elope or something. 29, as far as I was concerned, was already too late (I know, how stupid, right? No lectures please! But that’s how I felt.). So 30 shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system. After all, by the time the big birthday came around I’d have had a year to get used to the fact that I wasn’t going to get what I wanted. After 29, 30 was going to be a piece of cake (mmm, cake!).


Six months on, it appears I was wrong. I still want to bury my head in the sand and pretend my next birthday is never, ever going to come. I still find myself comparing my life to everyone else’s and wondering what, exactly, I’ll have to show for myself once I hit 30. No kids, no husband, no PhD (just a Master’s, which anyone can get), no amazing career. I don’t even own a house (unlike my younger sister – there I go comparing again!) Okay, I moved to Germany, but I came to be with my boyfriend – a built in support network. And I studied German. Not nearly as impressive as dropping everything to move to South Korea without knowing the language first, or emigrating to Australia alone. In fact, I’ve never even been to either of those places. Most of my travel has been within Europe. For holidays – not real, life changing travel. And I still live close enough to my family to be able to run away back home if necessary. As for a career, while I love my job, dedicating my whole life to a career is the last thing I want!

So, six months away from my 30th birthday, I still have no idea what I want to do and feel like I’ve achieved very little. Please tell me this is just a symptom of reaching that milestone and things do get better?

On the plus side, I’m up to 12 in my list of 30 German Towns Before 30, so the remaining 18 should be achievable. I just need to finally get round to blogging about those I actually have been to…

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